The appearance of Jagr and Brodeur marked what started off horribly for the Jackets and the home crowd. But somehow this team found a way to gut out an ugly 5-4 win after going down 3-1 early and take two points from a team that is ahead of them currently in the Metro. It was season ticket holder “free food” night at Nationwide and thankfully the team gave people a reason to return to their seats versus just standing in long lines for tasty eats all night. So let’s get to it and look at the three stars per NHL.com.
Well that was a hockey game. A complete 60 minute effort from the Jackets roster made for a an exciting and rewarding game for everyone who took it in. And HUZZAH! The yo-yo W-L-W-L pattern was broken in spectacular fashion with a shut out for McElhinney. While the crowd was sparse, those who braved the winter storm certainly found the effort to get downtown worth the while. There’s some lingering worry about Wisniewski and Calvert who both left the bench before the game is over, but let’s take tonight at least to celebrate the work of a team that didn’t stop. And we get to run our first official Game in One Picture! Read on!
3rd Star: Curtis McElhinney
You can’t underestimate the importance of a strong showing from McElhinney is his first outing as the go-to ‘tender with Bob on IR. Curtis delivered in spectacular fashion! While he certainly plays farther out of the net than Bob-ites may be used to seeing, he stopped all 20 shots he saw – including 4 from power plays – and inspired some strong play in front of him from the defense. To be honest, it was surprising that the goalie didn’t walk away with first star honors considering what was on the line.
2nd Star: RJ Umberger
Tonight marked RJ’s 400th game as a Blue Jacket and he clearly wanted to mark that moment in more than one way. He did what he’s supposed to do with some physical play – taking two penalties – and then notching a goal and an assist. The goal was mainly due to a beauty of a pass from Foligno but the genuine joy on RJ’s face after the puck went in made you genuinely happy for the guy. A big contributor tonight – worthly of notice.
1st Star: Nick Foligno
Remember last year when the Foligno trade was the one forgotten in the wake of the Nash blockbuster? Well #71 is certainly showing himself to be worth getting. He played a worthy 18 minutes and went 1-1-2. The assist to Umberger was amazing and perhaps would be garnering even more buzz if we all still weren’t basking in the glow of his highlight real goal versus Tampa Bay earlier this week. Foligno seems to be a key driver of this team both on and off the ice and his name is entering the conversation for future captain. I’m still scratching my head a bit as to why McElhinney isn’t number one, but if Foligno is going to take it away, that’s ok.
Game in One Picture
Stud: Boone Jenner
Remember when we were debating if Boone should spend a year in Springfield? Yeah me neither. This guy was buzzing all night – putting in the work. He was finally rewarded with a 3rd period goal, after 13 games without one, and this is a guy who certainly speaks to the identity the Jackets are trying to build and shows he can be a key part of the future of this team.
Dud: Mother Nature
We know the team is struggling, and we know that the only thing that consistently puts butts in seats, but after a low turnout Tuesday, did ya really have to pummel us with “snowmageddon 2013″ to even some of the most ardent fans at home? Ah well – the fans who did show up got to see something great…let’s just hope there’s manageable weather for all home games in the foreseeable future.
It’s been a tough road critiquing the Blue Jackets over the last ten games. Should I be acknowledging their convincing wins as playing to their potential, or are they showing up against opponents hitting the snooze button? Many in the Toronto realm seem to think that convincing loss was one of the worst performances by Toronto in recent history. Despite all the sharp edges around recent tweeting, I’m actually pretty optimistic about the team when they are off the ice, leading me to believe that none of their wins were flukes.
As of December 1st, Columbus is 6th of 30 NHL teams in man games lost (101). Somewhat dated on account of the game played last night, but it does show that while Columbus is averaging around 3.75 players out per game, and considering the caliber of players who have missed time (Horton, Gaborik, Dubinsky, Jenner, Calvert, Foligno etc), it’s no surprise that the idea of man games lost as a crutch for mediocrity would be used.
Well we couldn’t let a group of guys going after revenge get it without causing some nervous moments, but luckily the boys in Union Blue were up to the task tonight and beat the Edmonton Oilers 4-2 in Columbus. It’s a crucial two points, and yet another “up” in the constant yo-yo’ing this team is doing so we’ll see what happens tomorrow in Boston but for now, let’s look at tonight’s three stars (These are a lot more fun when we get to talk about Jackets)
Third Star: Sergei Bobrovsky
Can’t argue here. Bob faced 28 shots, and gave up two goals. He showed fairly solid play and was supported by a defense that seemed much more interested in helping him out tonight – well except for the third period when 8 minutes of penalty killing took it’s toll and resulted in one power play goal and one goal immediately after the power play expired. The first Bryz vs. Bob matchup showed Bob as the winner.
After the hole Columbus dug themselves during losses to Edmonton and Vancouver, I was ready to see another convincing loss against Toronto and a major shakeup. It’s not that pessimism has taken over my mentality for the team, in fact, I still believe on paper they are about as capable as any other team in their division to compete for a playoff spot. Rather, it just seemed like par for the course, after the way they’ve played, and the injuries they’ve suffered.
Instead, my smile increased throughout the game. The matchup brought shocked satisfaction as Columbus controlled the puck, limited mistakes, and caused turnovers which lead to odd man rushes for the first real time this season. It was exciting, and even caused me to watch the late night replay so I could take in the quality effort again. They deserved to win the game, and they did the right things. With the exception of Toronto basically sitting back and letting them win, I could not be more impressed by their efforts.
With this team going up and down more than a yo-yo, we’ll dispense with the pleasantries and move directly on to looking at tonight’s three stars. Nary a Jacket among them and you can’t really argue with that.
3rd Star: Alexander Edler
A booming shot for goal number 4 and an assist on goal number 1. On a night like tonight, that’s gonna get you a star.
If anyone is out in Blue Jackets land reading recaps, learning more about the team right now, consider me impressed. Their fandom knows no bounds, and their attitude towards the team rivals few. The on ice disaster displayed last night would make the casual fan find something else to watch, the average fan laugh, and the die hard fan furious. I’m currently still furious.
Should we discount that Edmonton was 5-15-2 prior to the game? They are a team that has been playing hopeless hockey. A team that Columbus should have obliterated after a convincing win against Ottawa on Sunday. Apparently not. Apparently, Edmonton decided they would go out and embarrass everything this team is.
It’s always nice to drown out the regular Sunday afternoon pigskin with the sound of skates digging into the ice, shots ringing off the crossbar, and crisp tape to tape passes. After a very disappointing shootout loss to Montreal on Friday, expectations were not terribly high that the entire Columbus roster could come out and play a full sixty minutes. Ottawa played host in front of a surprisingly low 15,535 (84%).
Regardless of games past, the Jackets fans were awarded for their loyalty with arguably the best game Columbus has put together this year – they dominated Ottawa from the opening faceoff. Taking a quick look at the stats will not tell the story. I have talked endlessly both on twitter and through these recaps that Columbus lacks the meaningful shots it takes to win games, and that was not the issue yesterday.
It was another heart breaker for both the Blue Jackets and their fans. A consistently tough opponent in Boston was bound to give Columbus a hard fought battle, but as the game came to a close I could not help but feel like a win was stolen. This scenario played out plenty of times last season, tied heading to overtime. One would think that Blue Jackets fans are used to the knee knocking heart pounding moments of overtime by now, but it rarely gets easier.
For the most part, I think it was a game the Blue Jackets deserved to win. I personally didn’t fall in love with their scoring opportunities, but they certainly had them, and for at least forty minutes throughout the game, they controlled play. Despite a very lackluster start to the second period, Columbus managed to battle back to 12-12 in second period shots after being down 4-12 at the midway point.
Bobrovksy was good, but not great. Through the wickets is never a good thing, making the overtime loss a bit more painful. Hard to fault him on the Thornton goal as Johnson tipped the shot, and I am sure he’d rather have the first goal back instead of settling for begging the referees for goaltender interference. Beyond the goals, he had a couple of moments where he was just barely in control and the puck seemed to squirm through him a bit. That said, he also managed a couple great saves to keep Columbus in the game when they were playing poorly during stretches. In any case, at .903 on the night, Bob was once again very human.
Rather than a traditional recap for the game against Washington last night, I am going to break down pieces of the Blue Jackets game and then talk about the players that impressed and those who made a mess (if I haven’t already). For those who missed the game, the Blue Jackets lost a stunner in overtime, after taking a 3-2 lead with less than six minutes to play. The loss stings, despite gaining a point.
Shooting: To begin, shot production was great in the first period, with Columbus outshooting Washington 12-7. Yet like many games we’ve sen this season, those twelve shots failed to produce a goal. Based on the combined 13 shots from the second and third period producing three goals (good goals at that), it remains a cause for concern. Rather than focusing on getting the puck on net, maybe they should focus on getting good shots with more traffic in front.