17 shots on goal. Short handed 6 times. Not the recipe for success or what I’m sure the Blue Jackets coaching staff and players had in mind for the evening but at the end of 60 minutes, the only stat that matters was in the Jackets’ favor: 4 goals for, 2 goals against. The Jackets hot streak continues. Continue reading…
One of the most exciting first periods of the Jackets season led to a far less exciting (and bordering on uneventful) remainder of the game, and a 5-2 Jackets win over the Blackhawks in Chicago last night. During the first, the Jackets and Hawks combined for six goals (only an empty netter coming later), and 28 shots (of 60 total for the game). There were as many goals in the first period as there were noteworthy shots on goaltenders in the third (per the NHL’s little dashes on GameCenterLive). Anyway, despite the semi-lopsided looking score, the Blackhawks outshot the Jackets 33-27, and outshot-attempted them 58-39. This was primarily the result of a 5-1 powerplay advantage for the Hawks, but the Jackets’ much maligned penalty kill held strong. Sergei Bobrovsky was his usual wonderful self in making 31 saves in the win.
3rd Star: Johnny Oduya
He had two assists. Okay.
Is it plagiarism if you’re copying your own words? I’ll repeat it: can you imagine if this team could start? That first 20 minutes was rough to watch. Hartnell took the most Hartnell-ist of all penalties to give the Ducks their first of what would be many power play opportunities against the Jackets and Kesler and crew were able to capitalize. Like the rest of the team, Bob looked shaky to start and it wasn’t until after Cogliano’s 2nd goal that Bob really “locked it in” to steal a phrase from Bob McElligot’s post-game analysis. From the 2nd period forward, Bob was like a cat watching a laser pointer, never losing sight of the puck and had a an intensity that Blue Jackets fans have become accustomed to seeing when he’s truly at the top of his game. As much as it pains to me to acknowledge that there’s a role for fighting still in the NHL, it’s undeniable that Boll’s scrap with Clayton Stoner was a huge momentum swing and changed the entire complexion of the game. Instead of giving credit where it’s due, I’ll simply say that a better team wouldn’t have needed a fight to display the same tempo and tenacity we saw after that bout. Regardless, from there on, those in attendance and at home were treated to a physical, high scoring hockey game with some of everything. Let’s dig in to the stars: Continue reading…
Sergei Borovsky made 38 saves, and Rene Bourque scored twice against his former team to help the Blue Jackets take down the Flames 3-2 in overtime on Saturday afternoon. The Jackets were thoroughly outplayed for most of the game, getting outshot 40-26, and outshot-attempted 73-52. The Jackets welcomed Boone Jenner and Jeremy Morin back to the lineup from injury, although both were a little rusty and fairly quiet. Bobrovsky kept the game close until Artem Anisimov put together a fantastic effort to force a turnover by ex-Jacket Kris Russell, pick up the puck, and score a spinning, backhand goal to send the game to overtime. Bourque put the game away with his second goal of the game as the Jackets extended their winning streak to three games.
3rd Star: Sergei Bobrovsky
Really, what more can you say about Bobrovsky on the game-by-game level. His only negative in the macro is injuries. When healthy, he gives the Jackets a chance to win every game, whether they deserve it or not. Bob was the only reason they were still in this game after the second period. He was outstanding, is pretty much always outstanding, and is totally worth his contract extension. Look, you can find goalies, and Bob is the example of it. But the reason you can find goalies is the difficulty in evaluating them. That also makes it difficult to find a goalie who gives you a legitimate chance to win. Bob isn’t Steve Mason, who basically had a hot fifteen games his rookie year, followed by league average player (and worse after his rookie year). When you find a guy who will keep you in the game (basically) every time he players, and that guy is young enough to do this for the next half-decade, you lock him down. Think the Rangers have any regrets about keeping Henrik Lunqvist at a big cap figure? He was a 6th round pick, and the same kind of find that Bob was for the Jackets. The Rangers have been in contention for at least the playoffs every year he’s been healthy. Bob provides the same thing for the Jackets.
I am clearly still reeling from the trade deadline. I should have greatly enjoyed this game. It was an old time hockey game, with a lot of hitting and fighting, and was a close game that was in doubt up until the end. I’ll get to my thoughts in the Stud and Dud sections, but needless to say I wasn’t a fan of the Jackets moves over the last few days. I like the Cam Atkinson extension, as it’s a fair price for a 2nd/3rd line tweener, although the Jackets now have quite of few of those type players signed for decent money. Anyway, back to the game. The Jackets fell 5-3 to the Capitals, after battling back from multiple two goal deficits to keep it within one goal up to the Caps empty netter with nine seconds left. The game featured fisticuffs from new Jackets Justin Falk and David Clarkson (sort of), as well as Cody Goloubef, Jared Boll and Dalton Prout. Also worth noting was the return of Sergei Bobrovsky, who was solid, stopping 28 of the 32 shots he faced.
3rd Star: Niklas Backstrom
Backstrom is really good. He’s played his whole career next to the lightning rod that is Alex Ovechkin, so he’s constantly overlooked. He gets called underrated enough that he’s probably properly rated at this point, but even watching him he is easy to pass by. He is so good without the puck, and his best skill with the puck is his passing. He’s the kind of guy every player wants to play with. Does all the things away from the puck but with it is always willing to make his linemates look good. His all-around play really opens things up for Ovechkin.
A slow first period for both teams lead into an interesting second period before the Jackets pulled away from the Minnesota Wild for a 3-1 win. It was a close game in every facet, from shots to faceoff wins, to blocked shots, and powerplay goals. A huge save by Sergei Bobrovsky on a penalty shot and a crucial kill on a four minute powerplay by the Jackets allowed them to maintain the 1-1 tie going into the third. From there, the Wiz-bomb took over, with a goal and tipped in shot providing the winning margin.
3rd Star: Zach Parise
Parise had a pretty solid game, doing everything for the Wild. He’s a very strangely rated player at this point in his career. I can’t decide if he is underrated or overrated. I feel like he doesn’t get discussed as much as he should when talking about the top two-way players in the game. But at the same time, he’s not the superstar he’s sometimes made out to be, and not the offensive force some seem to expect him to be. Don’t get me wrong, he’s an awesome player, but he was also on the losing side of the biggest play of the game tonight.
The Blue Jackets are now on a four game losing streak. The first three seemed to show uninspired hockey, but last night was different. After a significant line jumbling by Todd Richards, and the addition of rookie Josh Anderson, the Jackets showed tenacious, physical, offense-minded hockey. They outshot the Rangers, they out possessed the Rangers, but Lundvist out-saved the Jackets. And that’s the tale of the tape.
Let’s take a look at the three stars for the game as named by NHL.com:
So I was planning on being positive tonight. My last few recaps have been super negative. I also seem to get saddled with the CBJ’s worst games. So the first period happens. Probably their worst period of the season. I come to the conclusion the team has the Union Blue recap schedule posted in the dressing room and choose to crap the bed when I have to write about it. I’m not going to say anything more about the first period other than it sucked and Sergei Bobrovsky kept them in it. Then the second period happened, and it was fantastic. One of the better periods of hockey the Jackets have played all season. They dominated the play, but they did it in the physical, “Blue Jackets hockey” way that we had all come to know and love. The third period wasn’t a dominant performance by any means, but it was damn entertaining. The Capitals outshot the Jackets in the third, but that felt more like a team down for a good chunk of the period pressing to tie it up. Which the Caps managed to do twice. Unfortunately, the Jackets couldn’t pull out the overtime victory, falling 5-4 and bringing the wining streak to an end. The Jackets now sit at 7-0-1 in the month of December. That is pretty good. Less good is the Jackets now sitting in no-man’s land in the standings. They are seven points back of the Caps and the Florida Panthers for the final playoff spots. They were 10 points back at the end of November. It’s just that hard to make up points in the standings, especially when giving out points to the opposition in overtime or the shootout. The Jackets have also pulled too far ahead of the bottom feeding Edmonton Oilers. So screw it. Let’s keep this thing going. Who cares if the Jackets only have a 1.6% chance of making the playoffs (per SportsClubStats). This team to too good to tank without sitting Bob (who is in a contract year), and a handful of other players. The odds may be stacked against making the playoffs, but they are equally stacked against ending up with McDavid or Eichel. So I’ve flipped back again, and am now pulling for the historic comeback.
Third Star: Karl Alzner
Any time a defensive defenseman has a multi-point night in a victory, he’s probably gettting a star. Even if his goal was Charmin soft (Bob really should have had that one). Alzner was fine, never really standing out in his 18:09 of ice time. Which I guess is good considering his role (think a less monstrous Dalton Prout).
Well that was a game, wasn’t it? It had a little bit of everything and by everything I mean every possible way to score happened: short-handed goal, power play goal, penalty shot, shootout, regulation goal…and then you add in one almost line brawl and a quite a few scuffles, 55 hits between two teams and a first period that pretty much had your head spinning and you have one enjoyable night of hockey (did I mention the Jackets now have 6 wins in a row?). The Jackets were able to hammer out a win against the team that eliminated them from last year’s playoffs and ensured that this season’s record against PIT will include at least one regular season win. BUT for the third time in a row, the Jackets beat a conference opponent WHILE giving them a point. That certainly makes a climb to a playoff spot that much more difficult and the push and pull between what this team can do and what if they get a top pick in the draft continues. Ah the drama. Let’s look at the three stars from last night’s game as named by NHL.com:
So that makes five straight wins for the Blue Jackets. I’d love to be excited about that, but once again the Jackets were grossly outplayed by the opposition, only to see Sergei Bobrovsky stand on his head again. I wish I could be positive about this team, but it’s just so hard. They looked like they were shorthanded for most of the game, and while they were a man or two down for much of it, they could easily have spent more time on the penalty kill. There were a few calls they got away with late in the game that could have swung the game back in the Capitals favor. I don’t know what more to say about this team right now. They aren’t playing well. They really truly aren’t. The Capitals were the much better team in my eyes tonight, their best players were more dominant, with the obvious exception of Bobrovsky. Making things even murkier, the Jackets again give up a loser point to a team they are chasing in the standings (making it three of the five wins). Considering the massive amount of ground they have to pick up, they need to start beating teams ahead of them in regulation. Otherwise they are headed towards the 12th overall pick while never really sniffing the playoffs.
3rd Star: John Carlson
The star pickers in Washington are very different than most other teams it appears. Carlson is a very good all around defenseman, who played a very solid 25:07 for the Caps tonight, logging serious minutes on both the PP and the PK. But with only one shot on net, and a single assist, he didn’t have the kind of numbers you would expect. This is especially true considering the dominance of the Capitals in this game, and the nine shots fired on goal by Alexander Ovechkin.