Posts tagged Dan LaCosta

Columbus vs. Pittsburgh 9/15

There are a lot of ways to look at pre-season hockey. Some teams use the opportunity to experiment with new line combos, other teams like to throw the load on young developing players to see how they handle themselves, and some teams use the experience to simply gear up for the season. I think for most Jackets fans, last night was a breath holder with the new back up netminder Garon between the pipes, hoping the goalie could impress Hitch enough to actually utilize more than just Steve Mason this year.
There was no question Garon could bear the weight. Stopping all 21 shots he faced, including a couple of very strong attempts from Crosby, Garon really built his credibility with at least this fan, and likely most others. While he was the bright spot in net, after removed for the third period in favour of a young Danny LaCosta, it showed that both Mason and Garon are going to have to remain healthy this year.
Pittsburgh brought a lot to the final frame, tying the game twice before winning early into overtime. While it was an unfortunate series of events and a true wakeup call for LaCosta and a couple young Jackets defenders, it was also the perfect opportunity to display the teams resilience. Losing a three goal lead is very hard on a team, and I will take a lot out of them coming back and scoring their fourth goal.
There were other positives to the game. The Jackets abysmal powerplay managed to score two goals on four opportunities. Mayorov had a pair, with Voracek netting the other goal. Young Filatov and Moore both had assists, looking strong on the ice, and Blunden, fighting for a roster spot, managed to impress with a solid game.
All in all, games like these are a lot more relevant in substance than in scoring. It will certainly be more clear how they have developed over the summer once their full roster dresses, but at this point, I am more than comfortable suggesting that last night was a strong success.
Carry the Flag!

Mason Back and Ready..

It was clear that members of the Detroit Red Wings had an agenda last night.  Go big and aim for the glove on mono recovered Steve Mason.  They took advantage a couple times on a glove hand that seemed a bit slower than usual, but Mason stood strong, allowing Columbus to gain another two points in a game that most teams would accept one or zero points in.
Outside of their clear glove hand target, the physicality around Mason was also prevalent, with guys like Meech crashing into him without penalization.  Good thing Columbus has rarely been favored this year, and would definitely defend their goalie at all costs regardless of how the refs decide to call it.
Getting past the game itself, having Mason come back and gain a victory is also a big positive for the team in a couple different ways.  First off, it reminds LaCosta that his time is not right now, and Mason will hold onto the spotlight for the time being.  It also reminds the fans that no team has that many players come in and steal the show, but frankly, we should consider ourselves lucky that he was able to come in and play as well as he did.
Secondly, it truly shows the value of the team outside of the net.  The defense and offense may not have bailed out Mason last night, but they played very smart and strong hockey against Colorado and San Jose with young LaCosta between the pipes.
Finally, it shows that Mason was not on a hot streak.  Many young players and even veterans come in and play fantastic hockey for a given period of time only to flatten out.  I feel like if Mason was simply riding the wave, that momentum would have dissipated with the time off and he would have come out poorly last night.
Looks like the only guy who will not learn is Hitchcock.  Mason will be starting again tonight in net against Carolina.
Carry the Flag!

Post Game Thoughts

Last night, Dan LaCosta handled everything the Avalanche could muster, recording his first career NHL shutout.  If this team had a laundry list of players they would have never expected to explode into the NHL scene this year (Brassard, Voracek, Mason, LaCosta, Methot, Russell, etc) it would clearly be turning to page two very soon.

Not only did he record the shutout, but he did it in a way that proved his worth.  The defense was alright, but was still penetrated at times, forcing Dan to make one or two key saves in a row on multiple occasions.  His rebound control definitely needs some work, but even with the rebounds he allowed, he remained in position after the fact, making sure wherever the puck went, so too did he and his positioning.
RJ Umberger was once again a physical and agile beast on the ice.  He has really taken on a role that was very similar to his great work ethic in the playoffs last year with Philadelphia.  Always first to the puck, and getting shots on or near the net when you would not expect him to.  While he has not really been awarded yet (he clearly deserved the game winner against San Jose), he has received the respect of many fans.
Modin continues to disappoint, most recently on the first powerplay of the game, when his foolishness put him in the penalty box and made it 4 on 4.  It is another statistic in a growing trend of mistakes and inability from him.  He missed the net on key opportunities in the second period, twice which allowed the puck to bank off the back boards and allow Colorado to bring the puck up the ice in a 2 or 3 on 1 opportunity.  Yes, he made a nice play to tip the point shot which put the Jackets up 3-0, but it did very little to alleviate the prior mistakes of the game.
All in all, it was a strong effort by the Jackets.  If I were Hitchcock, I would be a little worried about them not being able to score in the first period, even though they dominated the offensive zone.  Their resilience is what won them the game though, taking the must win mentality deep into the game.
Carry the Flag!

Some Negatives After a BIG Positive

I do not like to be the person to downplay a very positive thing, but I have found that I single out players or coaches even in victory.  There are a couple things that I want to get out there and I would really like your (the fans) opinions on them as well.

1.  Ken Hitchcock and his “play em’ if they are hot” attitude.  Yes, playing a line a shift after they have scored can sometimes work, but doing it every time seems like overkill.  Not only does that wear out the line a bit more in the middle of the game, it makes three other lines go cold.  Until the Jackets have a number one center, I personally do not think there is a single line that stands out from the rest, unless you want to assume that any line Rick Nash plays on is the number one and should get the most playing time.  I think at this point of the season, and from what we have seen when the top guys are out, there are three capable lines that need equal time on the ice.
This attitude also extends to goaltenders.  He absolutely wore out Mason over the last couple months, and while mono was the real culprit, playing any goaltender in that many games can only lead to trouble.  I think Wade has not really found his bearings yet, but he has been a savior in New York, and I think he can be a savior in Columbus if given the right opportunity.
2.  Modin..  I know a lot of people like him for his ‘veteran presence’ and ‘leadership’ qualities, but I want to straighten something out right now.  He is lazy on the ice, makes big mistakes with the puck on the powerplay, and has a very hard time getting the puck to the net when the team needs the puck on/in the net.  Frankly, the team is better off with a young player like Jakub on the powerplay if not for his effort alone.  Modin is sluggish with the puck, and a shadow of his former self.  If ever a player that the team could do without, it is Modin, and he is in my opinion, the last player from the old Jackets era (the team we do not like to take about) that needs to be removed.
3.  Backman.  Yes, he scored the winner last night.  No, he did not deserve it.  The puck was floating in the crease, and he took advantage of a great shot by Umberger, and capitalized on a bad defensive effort and basically swatted in the winner.  This does not alleviate his lazy defensive play, and horrible inability to get the puck on net during offensive possession.  The Jackets offense needs to know that when they play the puck back to the point, the shot will be accurate, and through traffic, and Backman will never be able to provide that for him.
So I have ranted, and I have come to a conclusion that points 2 and 3 and what will really set this team apart.  As much as it may hurt the Jackets in terms of cap space and value of the dollar, Backman and Modin need to have limited roles for the rest of the season, and guys like Methot and Filatov need to get their opportunities with the big club.
Carry the Flag!

LaCosta Wins in Debut.. AGAINST SAN JOSE!

It has been a head banging type of week in Columbus.  Stupid losses to St Louis and Dallas had all the fans expecting a very serious game against Pittsburgh.  Low and behold, another lame effort drove the team to do the unthinkable… Starting LaCosta against San Jose.

Now, I will be the first to admit I was not prepared for that kind of decision.  I know Dubie has struggled, and I know Mason has been in brutal shape while battling mono, but who would have though Hitch would give the least experienced goalie the nod against one of the league’s strongest team?
I saw Legace clear waivers, and I read disappointment in some of the CBJ sectors of the net, but frankly, he was not the best decision.  What happened, was the coach put his confidence in DL, and the defense did the same.  The team clearly plays a strong game when they expect the goalie behind them to make the initial save and more.
Tonight has to be a turning point in the season.  They played a strong game and hung with a top team.  They did the same last week against another tremendously strong team in Detroit.   This is and should be a blatant visual effort to the team and their fans that they belong in the playoffs this year.  They are a competent team, and they play a strong, sound game (most of the time).
Be patient.  One center might be just enough to get this years Jackets into new territory.
Carry the Flag.

Minnesota vs. Columbus..

Tonight was yet another statement game for the Blue Jackets, pitted against the team sitting slightly above them in the standings in the Minnesota Wild, the winner of which would take over or retain the spot above the other.  Coming off a big win against Washington last night, the Jackets were expected to be tired and worn, but it certainly did not show.
Steve Mason once again got the start, with LaCosta watching from the bench.  Once again, that seemed to be the best decision, as Mason was once again fantastic, turning away shot after shot, and making it look rather simple.  He did not get another shutout tonight, but his focus and ‘injury recovery’ were wonderful signs for Jackets fans, looking forward to see their team return home after a tremendous road trip.
On the defense, Mike Commodore and Jan Hejda continue to impress me as a pairing.  With Commodore actually finishing his checks, and Hedja being a standout defensively against big names like Alex Ovechkin, this is one pairing that truly vaulted their efforts after the recent injury spree.  Add on young Kris Russell, who has been the Jackets best puck moving defensemen this year, and you find yourself watching a rather complete roster of players on the back end of this team.  Tonight was no different, and their defensive style of patience paid them heavy dividends.
Finally, to the offense, and what has me writing this tonight, rather than tomorrow morning.  Myself, along with 16,605 fans at Nationwide, along with almost the entire group of Columbus fans on the NHL Arena, as well as an entire nation of CBJ fans gripping their couches jumped for joy when Filatov scored his first goal of the game.  I looked up from my computer to watch him split the defense, and sneak the puck past Harding, and I jumped out of my chair with both hands in the air.  While this may seem like an overreaction to some, for me, it was the culmination of months of discussion about Filatov fitting into the Jackets roster.
It only took another two periods for Fily to find NHL goal number 3, which was scored as he sniped a wrister over Harding’s right shoulder, while looking pass the entire way.  It was the kind of goal you expect Ovechkin to score.  It was the kind of goal an NHLer scores.  So there I was, celebrating and laughing about how excited I was, and in true Hitchian style, out came the Voracek – Peca – Filatov line almost immediately after the goal, and it was clear Peca and Voracek told the young Russian to find an open spot in front of the net.  Not only did they get him one shot, they got him two, and that was all he needed to bury his third goal of the game, fourth as a Blue Jacket, and his first career NHL hattrick.
I will have much more on this soon.
Carry the Flag!!!!

Leclaire Back on Injured Reserve

Carry the Flag would like to welcome Pascal Leclaire back to the injured reserve!  His nagging ankle once again proved too much for him to handle today, and the Jackets have placed him for the fourth time on the IR because of it.
Dan LaCosta will be the emergency recall from Syracuse, who will likely backup Steve Mason from now until forever.  This does not bode well for the team, considering Mason has not had a break in quite some time, although that may give him yet another strong opportunity to fight for rookie of the month in January.
To make things worse, Huselius spent only twenty minutes on the ice at practice, without participating in any of the physical drills.  Captain Nash probably will not see any time until next week, in what I am suspecting is precaution by Hitchcock, who is running horribly short on scoring forwards, and will have to rely on young guys like Voracek and Filatov to make their mark on the NHL early in their careers.
I hope to get a better update on Nash and Huselius within the next day.  Seems a shame that the entire Jackets nation just watched Leclaire’s trade value plummet.
Carry the Flag.