Friday, April 15, 2011

Jon Blum Shows No Signs of Nervousness Playing His First NHL Playoff Games in Front of Friends and Family

When Nashville rookie Blake Geoffrion was called up about the same time as Jon Blum, he had the added pressure of playing in front of his his hometown friends and family in addition to trying to transition his game to the speed of the NHL.

Now, turnabout is fair play for Blum who is playing his first NHL playoff series in Anaheim which is less that 25 miles away from Rancho Santa Margarita, California which is where he grew up. As he explained before game one in the following video from the Orange County Register, he had up to 30 passes for folks to show up and visit after game one in the series.

He is a trailblazer of sorts in Southern California. When the Predators chose him 23rd overall in the 2007 entry draft, he became the first Californian to go in the first round of the draft. When the Preds drafted Taylor Aronson from nearby Placentia, California, he claimed that he looked to Blum as a role model as to how the make the NHL from the non-traditional hockey area.

It appears that all the attention did not affect his play on the ice as he played a solid 20:05 minutes over 28 shifts which ranked him fourth in ice time ahead of veterans Cody Franson and Shane O'Brien. He also was a plus-2 and managed to get off a couple of shots.and delivered three hits while spending time on the power play as well as the penalty kill.

Those numbers show the confidence that Barry Trotz has placed in the 22 year old defenseman who only has 23 games of  NHL experience. He was a plus or even in 18 of those games which fits in well with the Predators philosophy of taking care of the puck at both ends of the ice.

The fact that he has made the transition to the NHL as quickly as he has should be no surprise as he has excelled at every level that he has played. He played four years of junior hockey with the Vancouver Giants and won the Memorial Cup in 2007. He finished his career in Vancouver being the all time leading defenseman in scoring.

In 2009, he captained Team USA at the World Juniors in his second year with the team and scored two goals and one assist in six games.

Blum debuted in Milwaukee (AHL) during the playoffs in 2009 and played a full season there in 2009-10 when he scored 11 goals and added 30 assists and was a plus-17, playing all 80 games. he ranked third among rookie defensemen in points.

This season, he started in Milwaukee where he played 54 games where he scored 7 goals and 27 assists before being recalled by the Predators on February 22 in Columbus.

So the puck drops again tonight at 7:30 p.m. local time at the Honda Center. I'm sure nothing would please the friends and family of Jon Blum (and Predator fans nationwide) to see him score the first of what should be many NHL playoff goals tonight in the arena where he grew up watching the hometown team play.

More Later...

Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass

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