Wednesday, October 21, 2009

10 Thoughts about Game 7: Calgary

1. The Columbus Blue Jackets made a spirited mid-game comeback to overcome a 3-1 deficit, but they lost, 6-3 to Calgary in the Pengrowth Saddledome.  This probably wasn't one that the CBJ were supposed to win, seeing as Calgary has a history of owning the Jackets when north of the border.  Still, it's nice to see a little spunk out of our boys in blue, especially on the much-improved power play that provided 2 of the 3 goals.

2. Rick Nash continues to awe and inspire.  Scoring on a 3 on 5 (yes, I typed that right) as he did is ungodly.  I can't find a video posted online, but I'll keep looking so we can post it for posterity.

3. Steve Mason - I'm trying real hard to stay on his bandwagon, but performances like last night don't inspire confidence.  To paraphrase Coach Ken Hitchcock's post-game presser, taking only 20 shots from Calgary and letting 6 through is not good.

3a. I suppose the big question is whether this is Mason's fault or the fault of a defense that's missing 2 of its top 3 players?  If it's the former, he needs to right his ship quickly with his goaltending coach.  If it's the latter, then he's a Hitchcock system goalie and probably should be happy to be cocooned in Columbus - regardless of how much or little that he's being paid over the years.

3b. Let's be fair to the guy.  As I Tweeted last night, "Mase isn't Jesus."  That being said, the Phaneuf goal was inexcusable.

4. As mentioned above, I'm of the feeling that the CBJ's duct tape job on defense in the absence of Jan Hejda and Mike Commodore was exposed last night.  You can get away with the smoke and mirrors against lesser opponents, but not against what I consider one of the top two teams in the Western Conference (San Jose being the other).

5. What baffles me is that despite the defensive staffing problems, the CBJ penalty kill shut down the Calgary power play on all 5 opportunities.  Maybe we should have Nash play defense until Commie returns.  (JOKING!)

6. Brassard gets his first goal of the season.  Stick with it, Derick.  You're playing with the big boys, and the goals will eventually start flowing.

7. Sammy Pahlson was the ONLY Blue Jacket to have a +/- higher than zero (+1).  Boll was the only zero but played only 6:32.  Everyone else was a minus.  Hockey is a team game, and they all fell together, more or less.

8. The Calgary fans were sitting on their hands more than I ever recall seeing.  That's a tribute to how hard the Jackets played last night.

9. Kristian Huselius, the CBJ's second-highest paid player, laid an egg in Calgary last night.  His lousy offense was only overshadowed by his lousier defense.  When you're a budget (salary-wise) team like the CBJ, such lack of performance can't be taken lightly.  Juice, step it up.  NOW.

10.  After all that, the CBJ are still tied for 6th in the Western Conference - only 3 points behind conference leading (!) Colorado.  All is not lost, not in the least.  I expect things to pick up once the defense gets healthy.

Looking ahead: A good road trip in my mind is one where the Jackets get at least half of the available points.  That means they need to claw out 4 points between Edmonton, LA and Anaheim.  Not that it would have been considered easy in Calgary, but I don't see it being incredibly easy in SoCal, either.

Thus, the win and resulting two points in Edmonton on Thursday night is a near-necessity.  It will be an interesting game, seeing as Garon and Filatov will both be in the lineup.

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