Wow, the past week I’ve listened to NHL coverage refer to the CBJ as the “surging” Blue Jackets and as a team to keep an eye on. We’ve all seen teams get hot for 3-4 games at a time but tonight’s 5th win in a row served as officially putting the Metropolitan, East and entire NHL on notice that the Blue Jackets are legit. The best players of tonight were the young guys who we’re entrusting the future of this franchise to and that’s a great feeling. Without further ado:
3rd Star: Sergei Bobrovsky
Man, did Bob come up huge. Logging 1.0 GA and a .963 save percentage looks good on paper and looks even better when you saw the monster saves he made against arguably the NHL’s best scorer in his soon-to-be Team Russia teammate, Alexander Ovechkin. While you’re going to win most games where you score 5 goals, Bob was huge in weathering the early storm the Capitals brought until the Jackets could get their legs under them.
2nd Star: Ryan Johansen
You’ve gotta give all the credit in the world to RJ Umberger for great patience, vision and execution to get the puck to Joey’s stick but the remaining shot Johansen had to bury was anything but a gimme. Joey and Jack Johnson also contributed to Wizniewski’s blast from the point to net an all-important power play goal. Like I’ve said before, Jackets fans are really lucky to get to watch the maturation of Ryan Johansen into a true star Center in the league.
1st Star: Cam Atkinson
My goodness, Mister Atkinson. The CBJ faithful are all too familiar with how deflating allowing a goal in the last 60 seconds of a period can be. Tonight Cam was able to share that feeling with the Capitals. Calvert made a great, tough play to the net and Cam was able to gobble up a rebound from a low-percentage angle with the perfect amount of lift to beat Grubauer. While officially, his 2nd goal was even strength, he buried it right as the PP was ending and before the Capital coming out of the box could contribute to play. Tonight was yet another brilliant night for Cam and is a lesson for opponents in what can happen if you underestimate him or give him room in space.
Game in One Picture:
Stud: Special Teams
Holy crap! A perfect penalty kill and a power play that was effectively 75% (I know, technically 50%). Given his power play contributions, I found it somewhat surprising that tonight was Wisniewski’s first PP goal. How often do you hear analysts, coaches, etc stress the importance of special teams. Well tonight they were good for 3 goals in a game we won by a 4 goal margin. A 2-1 game going into the final minutes of play is a lot different story than 5-1.
I can’t help but feel that Calvert and Carrick would never have had a meeting of the minds if the refs had officiated tonight’s game more consistently and called Calvert getting interfered with on his way down the ice. I understand that the rules dictate an additional 2 minute minor for Calvert grabbing Carrick’s mask but Carrick took some dangerous liberties with Calvert on his back on the ice. The refs should be embarrassed for allowing those cheap shots to go uncalled.