I think we’re starting to see the inevitable rivalry between the Rangers and Blue Jackets really emerge. With only 4 points separating the 2nd and 7th positions in the Metro and seemingly GMs that have each other on speed dial for trades, these games are getting to be ones you really look forward to as a fan. Tonight’s match up featured the bigger name former-CBJ roster in Nash, Brassard, John Moore. It was great to see the Jackets come out strong in the 1st period and establish an early lead after such a possibly demoralizing beat down at the hand of the Blues. I must admit I had flashes of panic as I watched the lead erode and overtime be forced but the Jackets were able to pick up the 2nd point in a shootout at the hands of a filthy goal by Johansen. Tonight’s 3 stars:
3rd Star: Mark Letestu
This was probably one of Letestu’s best games, I’m glad the local media recognized his efforts. That said, I can’t help but think that Wizniewski might be slightly more deserving of this spot. It seemed like late in the 3rd when the Jackets were getting pushed around Wiz took it upon himself to start launching Wiz bombs at Lundqvist and while none resulted in points they did generate some good rebounds and slow down the Ranger onslaught. With Tyutin leaving the game early everyone had to much a few extra minutes and Wiz put in 28 solid minutes, 8 of which were on special teams duty. At the end of the night, he had a 2 point game to show for it in the form of 1G, 1A.
2nd Star: Rick Nash
The last time we squared off against our former captain, he was completely absent and unengaged. Tonight, he made huge contributions for the Blue Shirts. He netted 2G and had it not been for some outstanding play by Bobrovsky, we may have seen some lids hit the ice.
1st Star: Brandon Dubinsky
In the Jackets’ last meeting against the Rangers, Dubinsky admitted in his postgame interview that he was a passenger and not a driver that evening. That certainly wasn’t the case tonight. Dubi opened the scoring with great deflection in front of the net that was the result of a Wiz-bomb that Wizniewski was able to generate by making a great play to keep the puck in the offensive zone, launch into traffic, have it deflect off of Horton’s heel before Dubinsky would angle it in. In short, King or not, Lundqvist had no chance on this one. Dubi’s assist was a great cross-ice pass to a trailing Wizniewski on the rush.
Stud: Sergei Bobrovsky
Really hardly any question here. When tested, Bob came up huge and certainly wasn’t eased back into his puck-stopping duties. He faced plenty of rubber tonight, going 40/43 for a .930 save percentage and went perfect in the shootout. I have a feeling any time he stops Rick Nash on a break away, penalty shot or shootout attempt, Bob will only continue to endear himself even more to the CBJ fandom. If I had any fears going into this game about the health of his groin or if he was ready to return, they were put to ease. His lateral movement was very Bobrovsky-esque (pre-injury). While I was pleasantly surprised with the performance of the McElhinney/McKenna pair, there’s nothing like having your true number one guy between the pipes.
While it may not be popular to say it, I do think Kreider eased up prior to the hit he put on Tyutin that ultimately resulted in a 5 minute boarding major and game misconduct. While it was clear that Tyutin was shaken up by the hit, I don’t expect Kreider to be getting a phone call from Mr. Shanahan’s appointment maker. While for the most part, the rest of our D men did a great job adjusting for the remaining 40 minutes to distribute his duties amongst themselves, losing Tyutin is a big blow, especially if it’s for any sort of extended period of time. Keeping my fingers crossed that see him back on the ice sooner rather than later. Luckily, the entire team gets some time to recoup from this road trip as our next game isn’t until Friday against Carolina in the confines of our very own Nationwide Arena. Go Jackets!