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It Was All in the Face-off Department!!!

by Bill Davidge / Columbus Blue Jackets

“The game was won in the dots....”  That was the comment from Hitch during the post game last night (after a 4-1 loss) and reinforced today in the media scrum at JLA.  The Jackets were in the game fully entrenched through one period of play, shots on goal 14-13 Detroit, and the face-off department was 12-9 CBJ. The next 2 periods the CBJ went 12-23 and lost draws in critical areas of the ice at critical times.


Vermette, 6th in the NHL, went a dismal 6-10 and the 4th ranked Manny Malhotra was 8-10.  Pavel Datsyuk dominated the circle going 14-5.  Talking with him this morning he says it is the help of his wingers that make sure the team is in control of the puck....and boy did that open up a bevy of controversy between players, coaches and even a true admission from a former Red Wing.  Jason Williams was apparently forth right in saying the Wings are taught to “cheat” on the draws.  The ability to jump the gun on the draw to make sure that the proper lanes for retrieval are filled is the technique used.


One can call it “cheating”.  Hitch compares it to drag racing when the Xmas tree is designed to get to GREEN.  Jumping the gun will be the flavor of the night at JLA tomorrow!!  Watch this and see how the referees manage this aspect of the game.


A couple of points of interest....talking with Jiri Hudler about Rusty Klesla, he says he grew up playing in neighboring towns that are located about ½ hour apart.  He said that Rusty was always a big kid growing up and played the physical brand of hockey all the way through minor hockey.  They remain close friends but not now as it is all business.  Tomas Holmstrom had some compliments about Rusty as well, noting how he is growing into a respected foe, especially down in the blue of the crease where last night the two battled on several occasions.


In talking with “C” Nicklas Lidstrom, I asked the questions if he was changing his number to 615?  He was all over Nash’s back last night and only one minute separated the two captains ice time all night.  Nick is a class act and has the utmost respect for Rick’s size and explosive manner.  He admitted it is tough to play him too close on the defense when matched up 1 on 1 because of his strength and quick first step to the net. 


One game is in the books.  The locker room has thrown the stat sheet into the garbage and is moving on tomorrow at 6pm!! 


Stay tuned!!

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