OK, this is getting ridiculous. Stop me if you’ve heard this one: final score of 4-3 after one team being up 3-1. After the first period it was hard to be too optimistic that lightning would strike for the 4th time in a series and that we’d be on the favorable end of it. Tonight the CBJ faithful were treated to nothing less than a fairy tale story of a young, playoff-inexperienced team that simply didn’t know how to die. I left Nationwide Arena to thunderous echoes of ‘CBJ! CBJ!’ from an inspired and excited fan base. Here are the players that made the magic tonight:
Who wants a 3-1 lead against a divisional foe in a first round playoff series? Ask any coach in the league this question and they’ll ask you how many fingers they need to cut off to make the deal. Maybe I exaggerate but as a fan watching this series, I think you’ll start to find more and more CBJ or Pens fans superstitiously weary about that scenario. In the 3rd game in a row of what’s been a great series so far, the team to jump out to a 3-1 lead has lost the game with a final of 4-3. The Blue Jackets did it in an exasperating 2 minutes and 13 seconds. While throughout most of the game the Jackets were getting outshot by a margin of 3:1 or more, for the first two periods it felt like they were still largely in control. Even after allowing the dreaded ‘within the last minute of a period’ goal for the Pens (1.8 seconds, actually) they responded with a quick strike just a minute into the third period when Dubinsky thought it would be neat to deflect a goal off of his own player. Continue reading…
OK everyone, we’re in the playoffs. You know what that means, right? Playoff beard time! Just to make things interesting, here at the Union Blue we’re going to offer up an autographed puck to two lucky fans who participates in this time-honored playoff tradition! The rules are simple:
- Once the regular season ends, no shaving. It’s bad luck. If you want to start from clean shaven, get that last shave in now because hopefully you won’t be using that razor and Barbasol for a while!
- You must submit a before and an after picture. Before picture can be submitted any time before puck drop of the 1st playoff game. Copy @TheUnionBlue and apply a hashtag of #beardbrigade. After pictures can be submitted within one day of our elimination or hoisting the cup.
- I understand that some of the members of the community may have challenges in growing a playoff beard for reasons of gender or age. Don’t worry, you’re not left out! Submit a before and after as well and get creative with what you make your beard out of! Cotton balls? Sharpies? $1 cotton candy? Anything goes!
- Winners will be chosen by resident Union Blue beard experts based upon sheer beard volume, beard styling, originality with bonus points going to those who show the most pride in their work in progress!
Also, let’s see progress pics along the way! Any time you want to show off your finely quaffed face fur, let’s see it! Best of luck everyone, can’t wait to see your submissions!
Wow. What started as a bit of a snooze-fest on the front end of the game sure turned into an exciting conclusion for an all-important two points that the CBJ need to try to create some breathing room between them and others hunting down one of the wildcard spots in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Early in the game, the 4th line created some great energy and a gorgeous scoring opportunity that started with a gorgeous saucer pass from Letestu to Comeau’s stick and ended with Khudobin making an impressive save. Coming away with a win in a game where the Jackets never had a lead in regulation is huge and speaks to a trait that they’ll need to have if they expect to make the playoffs and be productive once there. Let’s take a peak at the stars of the game:
3rd Star: Artem Anisimov
I won’t argue this with the exception of maybe bumping him up above 3rd. While Joey’s OT game-winner was a great shot, Artem’s feed on that was the real work of art on that play. Couple that with his game tying goal in the 3rd and Anisimov simply came up big when it mattered most tonight. Love seeing that and can hope he can carry the momentum from tonight’s game into the rest of the season.
We all knew coming into this game how important tonight’s match up were for the CBJ playoff hopes. Obviously, anything less than 2 points would have been unacceptable and even though the Jackets have had the Red Wings’ number in recent years, they’re never a team to take lightly, especially with young talent like Nyquist and Tatar stepping up in times of veteran absences due to injury. Be it team proximity, old Central division rivalry or just two teams playing for their playoff lives, those in attendance at Nationwide Arena were treated to another great game that gave the home fans a lot to be happy about. Tonight’s 3 stars include:
3rd Star: Curtis McElhinney
While I’m not goalie expert, I can only imagine being a backup to someone like Bobrovsky who would sooner play a game without pads on than miss out on ice time has got to be incredibly difficult. Based on his post-game interviews it sounds like McElhinney had all expectations that he’d start tonight only to find out after warmups that Sergei would be in net. In addition to the practice and physical preparation that goes into being an NHL net minder, the mental prep/routine for a day where you start is well documented and many goalies don’t do well with interruptions to this routine. Curtis assumed his position on the bench for the 1st period and I can only presume he was disappointed. Imagine getting the tap at 1st intermission to be told you after all are going in. Curtis came in and while he allowed some pretty juicy rebounds early, he found his rhythm after a bit and gave the team a chance to win. Admirable performance by McElhinney tonight against a tough team in what’s arguably the most important game to date. This is a star well-earned.
Sorry for the late posting, I’ve forgotten what traffic getting out of the Arena District is like when facing a sell out. I’ll gladly put up with it for the rest of the (post)season if it means the barn will be rockin’ like it was tonight. While tonight’s crowd didn’t approach the sheer fever and insanity that were games 3 and 4 against Detroit in the CBJ’s only playoff appearance, it was the closest I’ve seen it to that in a while. There were a fair amount of Rangers fans in attendance as well but it was far from the dreaded away team invasion that we’ve seen before. Tonight’s a game that had been circled on many calendars for quite a while for those who are interested in the narrative associated with hockey. It had a former captain returning to his jilted team, many former teammates lining up against each other and two division foes each starving for points to secure their playoff berth. What more could you ask for? The tribute video pieced together to honor Nash’s return to Nationwide Arena was well done and by and large was met with positive reaction/gratitude in the form of a standing ovation. From that point on though, the cheers waned in favor of loud, sustained choruses of boos for the former captain after a cross check on beloved CBJ net minder, Sergei Bobrovsky. Frankly, I think this was a brilliant job by Bob in drawing a penalty. He was under Nash’s skin from the beginning of the first with the occasional swipe of the goal stick whenever #61 was near his crease. I found it hilarious that straw that broke the camel’s back was Bob teasing Nash by lifting Nash’s stick off of the ice, offering it to him, only to drop it back to the ice and laugh. After all those chops to the ankles/legs I would never have suspected that a childish joke would be what would make Nasher blow his top. It did, he became Nationwide Arena’s newest enemy no. 1 and then Matt Calvert took him to task for what he classified as a ‘gutless’ shot on Goalie Bob. On to the stars of the game and game in one picture!
3rd Star: Derick Brassard
Tell me if you’ve heard this one before: a team focuses so much on shutting down Rick Nash that Derick Brassard sneaks in the game winning goal. If you were a CBJ fan for more than a few years you should smile as you reminisce about that MO and then suddenly frown as you realize that we fell for that tonight and should know better. In tonight’s case, it was a particularly soft goal. You really hope to see Bob hug this post a bit tighter and make the save but for whatever reason, he wasn’t up for the task tonight: Continue reading…
Egad, that was ugly. This had all of the elements of a bad game going in: unfamiliar bodies being plugged into the line up, a tired roster, a net minder who has started every single game since the Olympic break ended and of course being lined up across from one of the best teams in the league in front of a great home crowd. Armchair coach of me was shocked to see Bobrovsky get the start. There’s no doubt whatsoever that he’s our number one guy but I had this game circled as one where he might get a rest. It ended up being a short evening for Bob anyway with McElhinney coming on in relief after the fourth goal. Hopefully the whole team can put this one behind them as they continue their Western Conference road trip. On to the three stars:
3rd Star: Brent Seabrook
Who doesn’t want a guy like Seabrook on their blue line? While contributing 2 assists Seabrook did a great job limited CBJ scoring chances while munching his normal 20-22 minutes. I’d be hard pressed to offer up this spot to anyone aside from the big first rounder. Continue reading…
Well they certainly made it interesting at the end for us, didn’t they? With the Jackets in the thick of the playoff hunt, practically every game is a ‘must-win’ game. After the special teams shootout against Florida I was curious to see if we’d be able to get some even strength scoring on the road against Toronto. Luckily we got that even strength scoring from a rather unexpected source in Dalton Prout as well as surging Russian Olympian Artem Anisimov. Tonight’s 3 stars according to NHL.com include:
3rd Star: James Reimer:
Reimer kept the Leafs in a game that they had no business being in after the 2nd. While as a Jacket fan I take issue with the liberties he was taking with our players in/in front of his crease that went uncalled, if your teammates won’t clear the crease for you, sometimes the net minder has to take matters into his own hands.
Ahhh, back above the line. Feels good, doesn’t it? There’s a lot to be happy about with tonight’s performance and as always some things to be concerned with. Since inking Nathan Horton to a deal I’ve been wanting to see how he and Johanson would play together. Tonight I got to see that and with some more time together and some refinement I think the 38-19-8 line can become consistently dominant. Let’s see who the NHL thought was worthy of the stars this fine evening:
3rd Star: Jack Johnson
I liked a lot about Johnson’s game tonight. He generated good traffic towards the net (see his assist on Johanson’s 2nd goal) and had the type of physical game that gives your teammates a jolt of energy. Johnson logged about 7 minutes each on the 100% effective penalty kill and the 0% effective power play on the evening. He was key in setting the CBJ tone tonight, which was “I hope you’re ready to work for every inch of ice you want, Capitals”. While Johnson was the lone D man between Ward on Bobrovsky on Ward’s short-handed goal, I think he was effective in shutting down Ward’s passing lanes and forcing Ward’s hand to have no choice but to shoot. Sadly, that shot went in. Continue reading…
That was unpleasant. Tonight’s game had just kind of road start you wish for. Recent offensive juggernaut Derek MacKenzie cleaned up garbage after Fedor Tyutin rang one off the pipe. Just 17 seconds later the 18-19-71 line made the Canes pay with a great forced turnover and some skillful passing. Alas, the Jackets seemed to pack it in after taking the early 2-0 lead. While coming out of the gate hot, the Jackets seemed content to allow Carolina to rack up the shot count, albeit mostly from the perimeter. Carolina stuck to their game plan and exacted their punishment on the Jackets in the 3rd when they Eric Staal broke open the scoring and tied it within 60 seconds. A limp-wristed backhand from brother Jordan beat Ryan Murray and Sergei Bobrovsky with less than 6 minutes to go in regulation to give the Hurricanes their first lead of the night. While the Jackets were able to muster a little bit of an offensive attack with under two minutes to go, pulling Bobrovsky proved unfruitful as the Union Blue squad spent the last 20-30 seconds of the game on the outside of the offensive zone, looking in, unable to take the zone with the extra attacker. Tonight’s stars per NHL.com:
3rd Star: Ron Hainsey
I’m sure every team feels the same way but the Jackets have a great way of getting the best out of their former players when they face them again. I’m not going to lie, Hainsey’s play tonight didn’t exactly stand out as anything outstanding but that could have been related to the venue where I watched the game as I was having difficulty differentiating between their defensemen all evening.