Chimera finds his stride

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:02 AM ET

COLUMBUS -- Speed always used to be the key to Jason Chimera's game - unfortunately the key only opened the door to the Role Player's Lounge.

But ever since he started slowing down, on and off the ice, he's unlocked the offensive side of his personality.

With nine points in his first 12 games (before last night) Chimera is on pace to shatter his career high of 36 points, set two years ago.

"I've always had it, I always scored goals in junior and always scored in the AHL," said the former Oiler, who had 77 points in 77 games with the Hamilton Bulldogs in 2001-02, but never more than 23 with Edmonton. "It's nice to finally start doing it in the NHL. "It took a while, but hopefully I can continue on this pace."

Columbus head coach Ken Hitchcock credits the sudden upswing in Chimera's game to the fact he's traded his fly-by offence for a grittier style.

"He's going and staying in the hard areas - that's it in a nutshell," said Hitchcock.

"He's staying in the areas you need to to score. He's always had a great shot, he scored a couple of goals off the great shot, but it's the stuff he's done in front of the net that's made the difference. He's got power play goals, five-on-five goals and points because he's been in all the hard areas.

"In the past he's a guy who would fly into those areas and fly out of them, now he's hanging around, staying with it longer, using his size."

A 10-month-old son has given the 29-year-old a renewed sense of perspective.

"It settles you down," he said of fatherhood. "You come home and the bad days don't seem so bad when you see the little guy's smiling face. You can't help but be happy. It kind of relaxes you a whole lot. Your ups are not so up and your downs are not so down."


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