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.
The CBJ rolled into Pittsburgh hoping to come away from the Metropolitan Division’s first place team with 2 points. For the first 40 minutes and much of the final 20 they dictated the pace of play and did nearly everything right, short of burying the puck early. McElhinney had a good evening in net. He gambled and lost with an aggressive poke check on a Malkin who absolutely smoked Tyutin entering the zone and was the victim of some flukey bounces off of Nick Foligno and Sidney Crosby’s equipment for the second and ultimately game-winning goal. Without further ado, here are the 3 stars per NHL.com.
Continue reading Stars of the Night & Game in One Picture: CBJ vs. Penguins
Welcome to a new feature here at The Union Blue. After every game someone from the tUB team will be giving their quick hit thoughts on the three stars of the game (per the NHL), as well as one stud or dud of the night not reflected in the stars (which might not necessarily be a player). So feel free to chime in with who impressed you tonight, who disappointed, or who you want to see run out of town. Unfortunately, we picked the worst Jackets game of recent memory to debut this. Lucky me, I had to stay up through this crapfest. So let’s make this one quick, as the stars of tonight’s 7-0 loss to the Oilers are:
3rd Star: Ryan Smyth
Always loved Smyth. The wood stick, the brutal skating, it’s like watching my old man play. And yet he somehow dropped three points on the Jackets. Good hustle boys.
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.
The refs and league actually nailed every aspect of the two hits from Sunday nights game. I’ll take these one by one.
Regarding Francois Beachemin’s hit on Artem Anisimov: It was a clean hit, with shoulder to shoulder being the principal point of contact, albeit with some incidental contact to the head. Arty had the puck, so no interference. As for Nick Foligno, he jumped Beachemin after and deserved his 2 minutes. The problem here is that no one seemed to have much of an issue with how this played out until the Brandon Dubinsky situation later. Continue reading Unpopular Opinions: The Refs/NHL Got It Right
The Blue Jackets had quite the weekend. Hockey Fights Cancer engulfed Nationwide Arena on Friday night, alongside a gaggle of Maple Leafs fans, and Sunday offered a great 6:00PM game against a very strong Anaheim team. It had the makings of a weekend that could really turn in Columbus’ favor, with the potential to go from 4-5 to 6-5, vaulting them into the second spot in the Metropolitan division.
Friday was amazing. Hockey Fights Cancer is such a wonderful initiative which was founded in 1998 by the NHL. I encourage you all to click on the link and read all about how many people benefit from this program, and what kind of incredible support it gets from the players of the National Hockey League. While I don’t often link to other sites, I think also important to read, is Nick Foligno’s story. The interview and story were completed by our very own Alison Lukan, who writes for Fox Sports Ohio. All the stories, all the incredible fans pushing certain purple jerseys to incredible numbers in the silent auction (you know who you are, you fantastic human), and the overall attitude that seemed to engulf Nationwide made the night, in one word, overwhelming. We are all touched by Cancer, whether it is family or friend, and I commend all who decided to be a part of this amazing night.
Before digging into the substance of the post, I must provide an apology. As many of you know, we just returned from a two-week vacation to Maine, Nova Scotia, PEI and Quebec. (Articles forthcoming during lulls in the hockey action). The down side of the vacation was that we missed the start of the season, and in our absence, the Blue Jackets posted a 2-5 record. Since our return last Saturday, they are 3 – 0. Just sayin’. Anyway, notwithstanding any dubious claims of causation, I promise to never again allow vacation to interfere with hockey. Mea culpa . . .
Let’s turn to the matters at hand. The Blue Jackets now have 10 games under their collective belts, which equals 12.19% of the season. Instead of relying on Twitter summaries or online post-mortems of the games — as we were compelled to do on the cruise — I’ve seen the live, in-person product on the ice for three games. Combined with some statistical review, I’ve got all I need to provide a first review of the good and the bad, and some indications of what might be forthcoming.
As of Sunday morning, the Blue Jackets are 5-5-0, with 10 points, but working on a three-game winning streak. The record might not be what some had hoped for, but represents a significant improvement over the 3-6-1 start last year, and light-years ahead of the 1-8-1 start in 2011-2012. More importantly, the club was able to shrug off a miserable four-game losing streak and post truly solid efforts against Vancouver, New Jersey and Toronto.
Much has been made of Brandon Dubinsky’s retaliation towards New Jersey defenseman Anton Volchenkov’s hit on Tuesday. Cutting into the offensive zone with the puck, Dubinsky was met hard by Volchenkov, sending the Columbus forward to the ice with a clean bodycheck. You often find the player slowly get back to their feet and shuffle to their bench in order to catch their breath, or a teammate come flying in to the aid of the recently adjusted player (those who are fans of EA Sports NHL14 know what I’m talking about). In this instance, Dubinsky took matters into his own hands.
Quickly getting to his feet, and apparently taking Volchenkov by surprise despite both players being face to face, Dubi grappled and hauled him to the ice, sending a few swings toward the ‘helpless’ defender. Some are making claims that Volchenkov was sucker punched or blindsided, yet if you watch the replay, it is pretty apparent that Dubinsky was the only one that didn’t see a hit coming during that play. Dubinsky was given a two minute minor for roughing which was entirely fair, and the right call to make in that case.
For two straight games, the Columbus Blue Jackets have achieved what they claimed to be in news articles and advertisements. Hard nosed hockey with talent and success, giving the fans a real treat from the stands. Wins against Vancouver on Sunday (hat tip to McElhinney) and a convincing win last night against New Jersey gives confidence to those wondering what type of team has been assembled here. The visible difference this team has shown over these last two games has been massive.
Despite a lack of scoring in the first period, Columbus controlled the puck well at both ends of the ice, and got traffic in front of Schneider early and often. It was the type of period that could have had them scoring a couple goals, but rather, they walked into the looker room still tied at zero, arguably holding the momentum.