Wednesday, December 30, 2009

10 Thoughts about Game 41: New York Islanders

1. The Columbus Blue Jackets flew out to Long Island to challenge the New York Islanders in the Nassau Coliseum.  The result was another defensive struggle (albeit with less energy than Game 40: Detroit), and the game went to a shootout.  The Jackets converted none of their three attempts, and the Isles got one past Steve Mason.  Thus, the Jackets lost, 2-1.

1a. The game featured two teams with identical records - an oddity at this point of the season - 15-18-7, 37 points.  With the "loser point," the Jackets are now 15-18-8, 38 points.  They remain in 14th place in the Western Conference but now are 9 points out of the 8th and final playoff-qualifying seed.  They have won 2 of their last 21 games.

1b. Here are your highlights:

2. I haven't performed any research, but I would have to think that this game closes one of the worst quarter-seasons in club history.  And for a team that has 1 playoff appearance in almost 10 years, that's saying something.

3. While the CBJ played better as a whole than they have for most of this stretch, they again exhibited an annoying inability to multitask.  In a flowing sport like basketball or hockey, it's important to play both offense and defense.  With the Jackets, you get an offensive game (and the goalie gets shelled) or you get a defensive game (and the goalie has a good game).  These days, we just don't get both.

3a. At least we're consistent in that we can't be relied upon to win a shootout.  (Sigh.)

4. Keeping #3 in mind, the Jackets did put 42 shots on goal.  That's like 2-3 games worth of shots for the CBJ, so it's not like they weren't trying to play offense.  Dwayne Roloson was just that good.  And he didn't even need to resort to his...ummm...less tasteful tactics.

4a.  I guess Rick Nash didn't need to wear a kevlar cup.  (I don't know if he did or not, but I would when considering his history with Rolo. Ye-owch!)

4b. It's also worth debating whether the shots were of sufficient quality as to make Rolo work hard.

5. The new Blue Jackets sure got their minutes considering they had a whopping one skate with the team prior to playing (Clark: 13:49 TOI; Jurcina: 21:31 TOI).  Clark had 1 shot.  Jurcina played relatively tough with a few hits.

5a. Perhaps the biggest positive of Jurcina's presence is that his pairing mate, Kris Russell, was flying around like he was shot out of a cannon.  5 shots on goal!  WOW.  It's amazing what Li'l Russ can do when he's got a strong linemate.

5b. To quote Jeff Little from his Twitter feed:
Interesting dramatic pause when Jurcina was asked what his fimpression of Hitchcock was . . . ;-) He recovered nicely.
5c. Those two new guys must think that they've been sent into exile.

6. Rick Nash got an assist on the Umberger goal and put 6 shots on net.  He clearly is trying his hardest to get the team back on track - even playing a much more physical game over the last couple contests.

6a. Considering the team's record, is it fair to Rick to say what he's doing isn't enough?

6b. Let's hope that the addition of Chris Clark helps lift some of the obvious burden that Nash is carrying.

7. In the bigger picture beyond the game itself, I caught an interview CBJ General Manager Scott Howson on XM radio's NHL Home Ice station.  He said a couple very telling things:

7a. He thinks it's going to take 94-95 points to make the playoffs out of the Western Conference.  Most of us in the chatterati have been thinking it'll take 92, so I suppose we'd best add 3 more.

7b. When asked about how he measures the season (10 game increments, 5 game increments), he said that the current situation demands game-by-game measurement with an eye toward the long haul.  To that end, he said that he wants to see the team 3-5 games OVER .500 by the Olympic break in order to have a shot at the playoffs.  We now have our measuring stick.

8. Steve Mason played OK, having lost the puck on the only Isles goal and a couple heart attack-inducing saves/rebounds on 25 shots.  Giving up 1 goal isn't anything to be ashamed of.

8a. Now, we get to see if the "Win and You're In" edict from Ken Hitchcock sticks.  In theory, Mathieu Garon should have the next start.

8b.  How can you argue with Jeff Little, though?
@DarkBlueJacket : I have trouble sitting Mason when he has a .982 save percentage and 0.46 GAA over the past two games.

9.  The Jackets apparently have 6 Olympians.  That would be Freddy Modin, Fedor Tyutin, Miilan Jurcina, Jan Hejda, Sammy Pahlsson and Rick Nash.  Congrats to all of them - may they do their countries..and the Blue Jackets...proud!

9a. (With all of this Olympian talent, why aren't the Blue Jackets winning more games?)

9b. I'll agree with Davidge, Rimer et al - Brian Burke is out of his mind if he keeps R.J. Umberger off the Team USA roster.  We shall see...

10. I have a scary feeling that we're going to look back at Game 40: Detroit - a dominating goalie performance in front of a sellout crowd to end the 9-game losing streak - as a high water mark.  Gosh, I hope that's not the case.

NEXT UP: The Jackets are back at Nationwide and host Nashville (23-14-3, 49 points) on Thursday night.  Gulp.

Images from Yahoo! NHL.

1 comment:

  1. It will be great to watch Columbus Blue Jackets, i have bought tickets from looking forward to it.


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