Sunday, January 31, 2010

Game 57/St. Louis: My Take

'Twas a bit of a strange game, somewhat out of character for the Columbus Blue Jackets.  (No, it's not out of character that they won, 3-2 in overtime.)

First, the Jackets scored first.  That in and of itself is really strange.  That it was Derek Dorsett who scored only helps.  Don't get me wrong, I like Dorsett a lot for the fire that he brings to the ice; he's not the scoring type.  Perhaps his promotion to Alternate Captain is pushing him to round out his game.  Add in that Dorsett's missed a number of games with injuries that largely reflect his no-holds-barred playing style, and his playing - let alone scoring - is a bit of a surprise.  Good for him, though.

Second, the Jackets (Fedor Tyutin, specifically) scored on a 5-on-3 power play.  When's the last time that happened?  Not that I'm complaining, but you can't say that it's not surprising to see happen by this team, this year.

Third, the game-winning goal.  No, I don' find it strange that Kris Russell scored.  Since his multi-game sit in Time Out (befitting a 9-year-old player, or however young he is), he's been one of, if not the best, defensemen that the CBJ have had.  What I find strange is the line combination that coach Ken Hitchcock put on the ice in overtime when the goal was scored.  Look at this:

  • Derick Brassard
  • Jake Voracek
  • Kris Russell
  • Marc Methot
  • Mathieu Garon

Remove Garon (who didn't impact the scoring side of the ice) and that's the CBJ's Baby Battalion.  The Kiddie Cocktail Line.  The Strained Peas Line.  I have no idea what to make of it.  There were no adult babysitters on the ice with these guys?  And then they of all combinations score the game-winning goal?  Is Hitch lightening up on the kids?  Did he have a brain cramp?  Is there - gasp - a sense of trust building in Hitch for his young padawans?

Fourth, we won in St. Louis.  Hasn't happened in something like nine tries.  Go figure.

Fifth, we outmuscled the Blues.  After too many games where we've seen action like that where T.J. Oshie plows Rick Nash (no embedding of the video in respect for the captain), the Jackets genuinely beat up the Blues.  Totally took them out of their game.

Sixth, we overgame a late-game meltdown.  The last 5-ish minutes of regulation were downright painful to watch, and the Blues scored right at the end to send the game into OT.  Yet the CBJ dusted themselves off and won the dang thing.  On the road.  In a barn where they haven't had too much success. Huh.

Note that none of this strangeness was bad.  In fact, all of it was good.  I suppose we should expect games like this from a .500 team (which the CBJ are playing like right now).  As I have said, it'll be interesting to watch how the Blue Jackets play out the string.

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