Friday, December 11, 2009

10 Thoughts about Game 31: Nashville

1. Both the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Nashville Predators played 45 minutes of strong hockey on Thursday night at The Arena Formerly Known As The Sommet Center, leading to a 5-round shootout that was won by Nashville.  The final score: 4-3 (SO), Preds.

1a.  Here are your highlights:

2. Strange game from a commentary perspective.  It was a reasonably well-played game.  The two teams spent the first period feeling each other out (which is odd, seeing as they played each other not that long ago). Then they went at each other in their own distinctive manner.  A tough, hard-fought game.  Someone had to win, someone had to lose.  Both deserved a tie.

3.  My game watching and posting today is distracted by the fact that my favorite college football team, the Notre Dame Fightin' Irish, just hired a new head coach.  You might have heard something about it here or there.

3a. (Irrelevant program, my ass.)

4.  Again, Ken Hitchcock distributed minutes to all 4 lines.  Considering the on-ice talent/productivity differential isn't that big between the 4 lines, I'd stick with that plan.  It's garnered 3 out of a potential 4 points in the last 2 games.

5. Two CBJers had 2-point games: Rick Nash (finally) and Kris Russell.  Li'l Russ keeps cranking 'em out, and The Captain asserted himself last night.

6. Only 3 penalties, all killed off.  The 2nd one in the 3rd period had me a tad nervous, but the lads came through.  The drop in penalties is a great, undertold story of the recent team performance.

6a. The link between playing 4 lines, having them rested going into the 3rd period and the drop in penalties probably demands exploration.

7. Mathieu Garon's performance was strong.  Any goalie that gets a team to the shootout has done a good job in my estimation.

7a. Speaking of shootouts, it's a shame that Garon's NHL record streak of shootout wins ended at 13.

8. Hey Fox Sports Ohio, you might want to be doubly certain on your arena names.  It isn't the Sommet Center any more.  Sloppy, sloppy!

8a. Oh, and Mr. Davidge?  Raffi Torres played for Edmonton, but he's not comparable to Wayne Gretzky.  Making that comparison SLIGHTLY oversells Raffi's skills.

9. We had some incredible scoring opportunities in the overtime period.  Umberger and Pahlsson, specifically, had breakaways go awry.  Gotta get those to the back of the net...

10. As much as many Blue Jackets fans hate Nashville, I just can't.  They have a lower salary cap hit than the CBJ (and that's hard unless you're Phoenix), they have great coaching, consistent management and are as tough as nails on a nightly basis.  I can see admiration and probably envy - LOTS of envy, considering that their franchise is essentially of the same era as the CBJ - but not hate.

NEXT UP: The Jackets (14-11-6, 34 pts, $48.538MM salary cap hit, +11 Financial Acuity Index score) drop the puck at 7PM on Saturday night against the Western Conference cellar-dwelling Anaheim Ducks (11-13-6, 28 pts, $55.67MM salary cap hit, -10 Financial Acuity Index score).  Note that the CBJ are only 1 point out of 8th in the West, so a win would put them in great position to sneak back into the picture next week.

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