Saturday, October 27, 2007

Pascal Leclaire Finally Living Up To The Hype?

Pascal Leclaire has 4 shutouts already this year. I have to pinch myself every time I say that. He had 1 career shutout in 59 games coming into this year. He is putting up Brodeur-esque numbers with the dismal Blue Jackets defence in front of him, which is absolutely mind numbing. Saying that Leclaire has had a good start to the season is the understatement of the century, and nobody could have predicted this. The hot question is, can he keep this up? I say absolutely. He is finally showing why the Jackets took him 8th overall in 2001, and that is to be the number one guy in Columbus. Nobody has ever doubted his talent, but his development has been severely delayed due to injuries. His save percentage really stands out to me. Leclaire is getting a fair amount of shots a game (26.8 to be exact), yet he still has a .950% save percentage.

His fantastic start has also raised another issue, and that is of the status of backup Fredrik Norrena. He came into the year nursing a knee injury, which allowed Leclaire to get a bit of a jump out of the gate since the starting position was still up for grabs coming into the season. Norrena proved that he could play at the NHL level by putting up a winning record with the Jackets last season, even though they were awful. Does Norrena get traded? Not likely, but he may see his playing time diminish as the season goes on, which is a shame because he should really be starting 50+ games. As long as Leclaire keeps up his fantastic play, the Blue Jackets will not be complaining about having two NHL starter quality netminders, in fact, they'll probably take as much advantage of it as possible.