The Era of Square Pegs and Round Holes is gone. It has been replaced by the Era of Group Hugs.
Sure didn't hurt tonight, as the CBJ won, 2-1, over the contemptible Marc Crawford and the Dallas Stars (and, no, I'm not forgetting NHL-designated cheap shot artist James Neal, who was remarkably quiet tonight. He must not have known that Derek Dorsett went on injured reserve.).
The team played a little ragged, which stands to reason when your (interim) head coach Noel proclaims that he's going to stop the over-thinking and ditch the X's and O's at the door. Again, part of the post-Hitch decompression.
Noel spread the minutes around much more evenly than Hitch, and the team didn't look noticeably worse. Perhaps the poster child for this new, more relaxed approach is DBJ favorite Milan Jurcina, of FREE MILAN fame, who got over 18 minutes on the ice, more than 2 of which were on the penalty kill. That's right, 2 minutes on the penalty kill alongside Rick Nash when Hitch wouldn't even let poor Milan smell the game ice for 5 games. And Jared Boll went over 10 minutes. With equity like this, Noel is sure to win friends in the locker room. (Now why Marc Methot was paired with Jan Hejda and logged over 22 minutes is beyond me, but I'll take the moral victory of seeing Jurcina on the ice.)
The offense still is poor-to-lousy, and way too much of the game was played in the Jackets' defensive zone. Claude needs to unleash the hounds if the CBJ's minute chances of getting to the playoffs are to come to fruition. The defense, and goalie Steve Mason in particular, were MUCH stronger, giving Jackets fans hope.
The whole team looked much looser out there, which means the players coach approach appears to be well-received in Columbus. Maybe our new "aw, shucks" (interim) head coach has the right idea.