Quite a series we have on our hands here. Another hard fought, close game, where a team comes back from two goals down (twice this time) to eventually win the game. If the first game showed the Jackets can hang with the Penguins in a series, this game showed they could pull off the upset. The Jackets now have home ice advantage, Bobrovsky hasn’t stolen a game yet, and Fleury hasn’t choked away a game yet. If anything, the goaltending battle has been in Pittsburgh’s favor so far. A stinker from Fleury and Bob stealing a victory would theoretically give the Jackets a dynamite chance at three wins this series (should they not happen in the same game). Couple that with a home win or two, and you have the recipe for an upset. A long way to go to get that far, but it continues tonight at Nationwide Arena. Let’s all get amped up for tonight with a look back at all the goals in the Jackets first ever playoff victory. Continue reading Goal Breakdowns: CBJ vs. Pittsburgh Game Two
Tonight, the Blue Jackets won their first ever playoff game against the mighty, storied Pittsburgh Penguins. We’ll get to the game recap in a second, but please indulge me a tiny bit of nostalgia. It’s truly a distinct pleasure and honor to reflect on tonight’s game. The woes of the Jackets team have been many and well chronicled. For many of us, the reality of tonight was a hope…a far off dream – something that might happen. That dream steeled our resolve when we took insults or pity from fans of other teams. That dream drove us to find one another and connect and find our strength as a group because no one knew what kind of a struggle being a Blue Jackets fan could be. That hope kept us coming back game after game, player after player…we wore our CBJ gear with pride and tried to share the gospel of a team that maybe someday would be considered a contender.
Friends, tonight dream became reality and “someday” is today – courtesy of Matt Calvert’s tenacious second whack at a puck against a scrambling Marc Andre Fleury.
I don’t know where each of you were when you watched the game go down but I am sure we came together one time more – struggling and fighting panic in TWO overtimes and then with the victory processing shared disbelief, followed by relief, followed by unbridled joy.
It’s a great time to be a Blue Jacket fan – this team is a group that believes and, perhaps sometimes more than we are able to, puts the past in the past and focuses on building a future to be proud of.
To put it simply, tonight was special. Really special. Let’s look at the three stars as named by NHL.com
So a 4-3 game one loss is in the books. I guess you could call it a moral victory, although I would call it a missed opportunity. Marc-Andre Fleury was as shaky as advertised in the first half of the game, the game was more or less even at 5 on 5, but the Penguins powerplay and a few key mistakes brought down the upset attempt. I’m only going to breakdown two goals completely, as for the most part there wasn’t a whole lot of hidden elements in most of the goals. The Jackets opened the scoring with a huge individual effort from Brandon Dubinsky (although Jack Johnson scored the goal). The Penguins followed that up with a Jussi Jokinen goal that resulted from Sergei Bobrovsky misplaying the puck, Fedor Tyutin misplaying the puck, Derek MacKenzie letting his man go (probably thinking Tyutin was going to corral the puck), and Bob being a little out of position after scrambling back into the net. The Jackets grabbed the lead right back on a Mark Letestu powerplay goal. I like the puck movement on that goal, really spreading out the zone and forcing Fleury to move. The goal ultimately came off a scramble that saw Fleury needing to move across the net. They have to keep that up. MacKenzie made up for his earlier gaffe, with a great individual effort on the PK to take the puck from Kris Letang and beat Fleury on a breakaway. The Penguins made it 3-2 on a powerplay goal by their second unit, off a great tip by Beau Bennett. I would have maybe liked to see Dubinsky pick up Bennett as he comes across there, but no major mistakes on that goal.
It’s pretty crazy to think about how much has changed since the Jackets last playoff appearance. Steve Mason was the savior. Rick Nash was the franchise. Derick Brassard and Jakub Voracek were the future. RJ Umberger looked like a steal. Mike Commodore and Jan Hejda were a beloved shutdown pair. Ken Hitchcock was coaching them up. Scott Howson looked like a genius. Well Mason is the savior in Philadelphia. Nash is the franchise in New York. Jakub Voracek and Derick Brassard are the present in New York and Philadelphia. Mike Commodore is somewhere. Jan Hejda is a beloved shutdown defender in Colorado. Ken Hitchcock is coaching up St. Lous. And if you are paying attention, Scott Howson actually still looks like a pretty good GM. Make no mistake, this is Howson’s team. He brought nearly every single player on this roster into the organization. The most prominent player expected to play in this series that was a Jarmo/JD pickup is probably Blake Comeau. Both goaltenders were Howson pickups. Seven of the eight defensemen who might see time were Howson pickups (Nick Schultz being the exception). Comeau, Jack Skille and Corey Tropp are the only Jarmo pickups at forward (plus the injured Nathan Horton). I’ve already dwelled on this more than I planned on, I just wanted to make sure it was out there that this team was built by Howson. Moving on.
The Pittsburgh Penguins. Funny how the Jackets first two playoff opponents have been Detroit and Pittsburgh. I know some fans are concerned about Pens fans taking over the building. Think back on that last playoff series, and remember the atmosphere. Nationwide was rocking with CBJ fans, and I expect the same this time around. If Detroit fans couldn’t overtake the rink, I don’t see how it should be much different this time. As for the on-ice product, I expect this to be a very close series. At even strength at least. The two teams are actually very close when it comes to 5v5 play. In shots for percentage, they rank 13th (Pittsburgh) and 14th (Columbus). In Fenwick Close, they rank 12th (Columbus) and 16th (Pittsburgh). In Corsi Close, they rank 13th (CBJ) and 16th (Pit). In goals for percentage, they rank 8th (Pit) and 12th (CBJ). On other words, the Jackets are slightly better at controlling the play, while the Penguins score a tiny bit more. Which makes sense, considering the talent they have, as Crosby, Malkin, and others have shown they (and their linemates) can consistently score on more of their shots than league average. But then again, the Jackets have Bobrovsky. Like I said, this should be a very close series at even strength. Pittsburgh has been quite a bit better on special teams than Columbus. So on the surface, the edge lies with the Penguins. Let’s look deeper, comparing the forwards, defense, goaltending, and special teams. And maybe we’ll see how the Jackets might be able to pull of the upset.
Continue reading Playoff Preview: CBJ vs. Pittsburgh
Well there it is, game number 82 in the books. The final score was maybe a little closer than I would have liked to see, and Bob saw a little too much rubber, but all things considered, throwing up almost 80 shots on net in (basically) meaningless games is not too shabby. With the win, a match-up in the first round with the Penguins is now set, the Jackets will have a little time to heal/rest up, and the best season in franchise history continues on.
Third Star: Mark Letestu
Not much creativity by the star pickers tonight. Letestu scored, so he gets a star. Personally, I would have gone with Boone Jenner. Tied with a game high six shots on goal (with Fedor Tyutin), and paired up with Ryan Johansen for a dominating performance by that line. James Wisniewski was also quite good tonight. And hey, both of them picked up assists. Continue reading Stars of the Night & Game in One Picture: CBJ @ Florida
HOW BOUT THEM JACKETS? What a game. Tuesday’s game marked the final regular season home game for the Jackets and let’s just be real, how good does it feel to say that and have to point out the difference. For those of us who have followed this team for many a year it’s truly a pleasure – and for fans “new” and “old” tonight was a real hum dinger. Phoenix was in town also fighting for their playoff lives and what you saw tonight was just a taste of legitimate playoff hockey can be. After a slow first period, both teams delivered a gritty play, swallowed whistles, intense crowd, atmosphere for days…and an OT winner. More than the sweet sweet emotion of the entire game for the team to come back from a late late tying goal only two games after losing a game in similar fashion shows exactly what this club is capable of. Let’s get on to look (and celebrate) the three stars per NHL.com tonight.
3rd Star: Boone Jenner. Yep. 19:35 on ice, 53.8% Corsi and one very big goal to start the scoring. Ryan Johansen is in the spotlight but don’t sleep on the young Jenner who is bringing a man’s game in a first year NHL player’s body. Perhaps most impressive to me was when Boone’s composure cracked for just a bit after Doan went after him. Boone leads the team in drawn penalties – his composure is unreal. When Doan came after him, and Johansen had to hold the Coyote back, you saw Jenner respond. It was a flash of emotion from a very controlled player. He got himself back in check quickly but this guy gets it and he cares quite a bit about making this team a winner. After losing his opposite winger when Horton went off with an injury, Jenner steadied the Johansen line and was a big body and a big presence all night. Continue reading Stars of the Night and Game in One Picture: Phoenix @ CBJ
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.
Well that was a riotous affair. In a game that will be much like every other game through the end of the season, Jackets fans held their breath while watching the Jackets bring home a 3-2 all important regulation win (increase that ROW!) An important victory – as they all will be – but a good story on the season as the Jackets got better (as far as winning) each time they played the Canadiens. Let’s also not discount going into that barn and stealing two points from the home town team. On to the three stars…(because really at this point we’re all looking to the match up against the Rangers, right?)
Losing sucks. Doubling up a team in shots and not winning sucks more. Holding a team to zero shots for an entire period, and still not winning? That’s practically unheard of. So we’ve covered that Tuesday’s game sucked. But let’s go into a little more detail. I was unable to watch the game unfortunately, so I don’t quite share my site-mate’s rage over the proceedings. But I did take a look at the goals, and the goals against had a couple things that really jumped out at me. So let’s talk about them and maybe point a finger or two in the right direction. Continue reading Goal Breakdown: CBJ vs. Carolina Edition
Well that was a game. This competing for a place in the ‘dance’ is fun, eh? The Jackets fought hard against a good team, took the game to overtime and then defied the odds in the shoot out to take two points from a Minnesota team. Still processing the impact and energy of that game and the fact the boys did it yet again so let’s just get on with it and look at the 3 stars according to NHL.com tonight…
3rd Star: Darcy Kuemper
This guy is technically the third line guy, but with Backstrom and Harding out, he’s been called into action and he played well. In a game that seemingly went back and forth, a battle of the goaltenders if you will, no question Kuemper gets the star.