August 21, 2008
There are major daily newspapers that haven't had the newsworthy week the Columbus Blue Jackets bloggers have had.
First, Bethany's Hockey Rants breaks the Stefan Legein story; now, Light the Lamp has a very in-depth lunchtime interview with Jackets head coach Ken Hitchcock that covers nearly every facet of the upcoming season. (Sadly, however, no photo of what Ken Hitchcock looks like while eating lunch.)
Much of this will only appeal to Columbus fans and/or fantasy geeks whose ears perk up when they hear Rostislav Klesla and Fedor Tyutin might be paired up on defense. For the rest of us, LTL got some prime info from Hitch on several topics:
On RJ Umberger: "He isn't your puck possession type of guy who can carry the puck and dipsy-doo -- he's more of a big body who goes through you and is very good down low. The thing that impresses him the most about RJ is his ability to score the tough goals down low and he just doesn't miss much from there. He also creates plays and notches assist with those little poke type passes to guys in tight traffic areas. Nothing fancy about RJ's game."
On Nikita Filatov: "Said the thing he's got going for him is that he's played against men for a year. The league he played in was comparable to the ECHL. He's only been able to watch a game of him on video but said he doesn't see a whole lot of separation between he and Stamkos. He, like the rest of us, are interested in seeing what this kid has in camp."
On the Jackets this season: "The Jackets need to improve their goals for and goals against by 1 to be a playoff team. How that divides up it doesn't matter as long as it equals '1'. For instance the Jackets averaged 2.4 goals for last year and 2.54 goals against last year -- if they were to improve that to say 3.1 goals for and 2.24 goals against there would be your '1' improvement goal."
On special teams: "On philosophy I asked specifically if we had enough skill to enter the zone the way the Wings did on their PP which was to draw the opposition to the sides of the ice to allow a d-man like Lindstrom to carry the puck directly up the ice while backing off the d and then drop the pass to a forward like Datsyuk/Zetterberg to gain the zone. He was well aware of this strategy and said Russell and Huselius are two guys who could make that work. Didn't get sense into how much confident he thought in terms of having the player personnel to pull it off."
On making the postseason for the first time: "Hitch is excited about this market. Says now is the time to make a significant move. He doesn't want to be chasing the playoff pack this season - his goal is to be in that playoff pack jockeying for position."
Finally, on games against the Nashville Predators: "Said that when talking with various folks in the know that they told him when we played Nashville that even though we outworked them they weren't worried b/c they knew only 1 or 2 guys could score. ... When asked if we will finally be able to beat Nashville his reply - "yes we will kick their ass."
Wow. There's some locker room material, huh?
Fantastic read on the part of Light the Lamp, which really does cover every angle for the Columbus fan. It's a great example of the kind of journalism you find on so many hockey blogs that are otherwise instantaneously dismissed by the MSM.
Now, if you'll excuse us, we have to come to grips with the fact that there will be a player named Grant Clitsome in the NHL one day, and that lines like "he loves Clitsome" will be commonplace for Columbus hockey ... yikes.