Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Welcome Back Russell..

Last night was Kris Russell's second game back after a five game stretch of healthy scratches thanks to Coach Hitchcock. His main issue prior to his return was his confidence, and his ability to rebound from a mistake while controlling the puck.

His play on Monday night was exactly what the doctor ordered. Getting immediately involved, he made a great move to get around BJ Crombeen, and shelfed Chris Mason, who appeared to leave the net far enough to cut off the angle. If that was not enough, Russell came out big on his next shift, making a long pass leading to the eventual 2-0 goal by Umberger.

What was not on his stat sheet was what really impressed me. First, one should note that he turned Commodore into a +4 player single handedly. Commodore was able to play his natural game and not worry about sending the puck forward. He also played one of his better games since returning from injury earlier in the season.

The next thing that was noticeable was Russell on the second powerplay unit with Brassard, Torres, Voracek and Vermette. They were by far the better grouping, maintaining pressure in the offensive zone every time they acquired possession, and really forcing Chris Mason to come up big for the Blues.

These positives can pretty much all extend into the Chicago game last night. Russell remained the best defenseman on the ice for the Jackets, and while he lost the initial possession leading to the Versteeg goal, he rebounded with a goal and an assist of his own.

All these examples should build a lot of confidence in the youngster, especially involving his confidence. I expect another great game from him tomorrow with Toronto in town, and hopefully Hitchcock can manage the lines enough to get him 20 minutes of ice time. He has been averaging 22 minutes since his return, and I do not think there is a person in that organization that would say he does not deserve it.

Carry the Flag!

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