Sunday, December 13, 2009

10 Thoughts about Game 32: Anaheim

1. The Columbus Blue Jackets largely could not solve the Western Conference-cellar dwelling Anaheim Ducks defense and lost, 3-1.

1a. Here are your highlights (so to speak):

2. Let's get the positive out of the way first: Freddy Modin came back and played very well, logging 12:16 time on ice and 4 shots, in his first game action since the preseason. Freddy seemed to have that "sixth sense" going where he knew where to be when the puck was coming his way. Let's hope he stays healthy - he keeps the puck in the offensive zone, something we need a lot more of.

3. By and large, this game was a highlight reel in "The Worst of Hitch Hockey" series. The defense and goalie played OK while the forwards chucked it in and made nothing happen.

3a. When the NHL's 2nd best power play can't score on a 52-second-long 5-on-3 power play, you know you have fundamental issues to deal with.

4. The first line of Captain Rick Nash ($5.4 million cap hit), Antoine Vermette ($2.763MM) and Kristian Huselius ($4.75MM), together comprising $12.913 million of cap space and 26.6 percent of the Columbus Blue Jackets team salary budget, had a combined 6 shots, 2 assists and an aggregate plus/minus rating of +1. Folks, if the CBJ are going to pull out of this funk, we know where the production needs to come from.

4a. The real frustrating thing is that the top line is putting in the minutes. Nash had over 25 minutes, Huselius over 22 and Vermette over 19. They're just getting nothing meaningful in return.

4b.  WhalerJacket at Tea with Ms. McGill theorizes that Nash could be playing hurt.  Wouldn't be the first time.  I'm not sure I buy the theory, but I won't discount it.

5. Anaheim plays a thuggish game that took the Jackets out of theirs. Once the Ducks took Derek Dorsett out with a broken hand (allegedly from his first period fight but possibly from his hit into the boards), they picked on the CBJ like a bunch of schoolyard bullies. And the Jackets didn't dish it back.

5a. Here's the Dorsett fight:

6. Worse yet, when Anaheim did take penalties (and they had seven tonight), the Jackets couldn't make them pay. So why shouldn't Anaheim keep playing that way?

7. After Dorsett left the game, it felt like the fire went out of the team. It amazes me that a $563,000 3rd/4th liner can be the heart and soul of this team. Where's the passion from the rest of the team?

7a. OK, Mase has the fire.  He also has about three-and-a-half million other things floating through his head, but he has the fire, too.

8. Don't the Jackets care?

9. The Dispatch's Michael Arace (whose writing I absolutely adore) says that the Jackets fans need to have patience with the young team. Edwards at the Carry The Flag blog whistles the apologists for a "BS" penalty. My head says to listen to Arace. My heart says to listen to Edwards.

10. If the Jackets couldn't perform tonight, at least the Syracuse Crunch showed some spunk at the start of the second intermission tonight against Binghamton before losing 6-3 themselves:

NEXT UP: Monday night at Nationwide features a rematch against the Nashville Predators (18-11-3, 39 pts., $43.934MM salary cap hit, +18 Financial Acuity Index score).  The Jackets are quickly approaching "must win" status for division games like this - the CBJ need to deny division and conference opponents points as much as they need the 2 points for a win themselves.

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