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In The Crease

In one of the best games of the season the Blue Jackets overcame
a 2-0 deficit last Saturday to beat the Avalanche for the first
time in franchise history, 5-4 in overtime. Columbus right wing
David Vyborny was the offensive star with a goal and four
assists, but the big-body presence of Rick Nash was the
difference. Nash didn't have a point, but he took the pressure
off his teammates by battling with Colorado defensemen Adam Foote
and Rob Blake. Nash is the league's top goal scorer, but his
unselfish play and willingness to compete down low are what make
him so valuable. On the game-winning goal, it was Nash who was
posted up just to the left of Avs goalie Philippe Sauve....
Because of a growing number of head shots and cheap shots there
is a feeling among general managers that the instigator
rule--which heavily penalizes anyone who instigates a
fight--should be relaxed. Last Thursday two incidents brought the
issue into focus. The Senators' Martin Havlat intentionally hit
the Flyers' Mark Recchi in the face with the shaft of his stick;
Havlat received a five-minute penalty and was ejected. He was
later suspended for two games by the league. Also, the Canucks'
Jarkko Ruutu slammed the Sharks' Mike Ricci into the boards from
behind, shelving Ricci for several games; Ruutu was not
penalized. Some G.M.'s think that if players were more fearful of
retaliation after they delivered dirty hits, most of the cheap
stuff would go away.