Thursday, February 11, 2010

Game 61/San Jose: My Take

Playing San Jose seems to bring out the extremes in the Columbus Blue Jackets.  As brutally painful as Game 3 was, as heartbreaking as Game 14 was, Game 61 was equally impressive in its own right.

The Jackets came out and laid the lumber to the San Jose Sharks last night.  They outhit San Jose, 36-22 (that's right, we landed 3 hits for every 2 that they countered), and kept the Sharks at bay en route to a 3-0 shutout.

This was an ice pack type of game.  Derek Dorsett (welcome back, by the way) laid 5 hits down.  Marc Methot pounded on the Sharks 4 times.  Kris Russell, who probably shouldn't try to hit anyone because he's so small that he'll bounce off, got in 4 licks.  Andrew Murray, who's probably mad as hell that he can't sleep at night any more because of the new baby, added 4.  And - get this - Our Veteran Leader Chris Clark offered up 4 hits of his own, seemingly snarling, "GET OFF MY LAWN!" at the Sharks each time.

So while the back benchers were mercilessly bashing the Sharks around Nationwide, the front-liners finally got it in gear.  Rick Nash potted an early goal on a rebound of a Kristian Huselius shot but also had a couple other gorgeous opportunities.  Jake Voracek took a Derick Brassard pass and squeezed one past the Sharks goalie.  And Antoine Vermette took the empty net shot after Captain Nash let up and graciously shared the wealth.

The Sharks couldn't get anything meaningful going.  Sure, they buzzed around Steve Mason a fair bit - Mase stopped 40 shots in impressive fashion, half of 'em in the 3rd period - but they looked disjointed pretty much all night.  Perhaps it's because the CBJ 3rd and 4th lines were wrecking crews out there.  And while it made sense for the Sharks to play their backup goalie against the Jackets (We ARE in 14th place in the West, making the CBJ a wise team against which to rest your starter...), Thomas Greiss probably got a little more than he expected.

The telling stat of the night for the Sharks was this one: The Shark's vaunted "Olympic Line" had a combined plus-minus of -8.  That's -3 for Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, while Dany Heatley was able to sneak off the ice for one CBJ goal and only got a -2.  If these guys were looking ahead to representing Team Canada in Vancouver, shame on them.  They get their paychecks from the San Jose Sharks, and the Sharks deserve much, much better.

Which brings up an interesting question: How did the Olympians do last night?  Why, let me tell you...

San Jose
Rick Nash - Canada
Joe Thornton - Canada
Jan Hejda - Czech Republic
Patrick Marleau - Canada
Milan Jurcina - Slovakia
Dany Heatley - Canada
Fredrick Modin - Sweden D.N.P. Dan Boyle - Canada
Samuel Pahlsson - Sweden
Douglass Murray - Sweden
Fedor Tyutin - Russia
Joe Pavelski - United States
Thomas Greiss - Germany 3 goals on 21 shots (.857)
Evgeni Nabokov - Russia

Go For The Gold, Sharks. [/snark]

Anyhoo, it's pretty clear that the CBJ took the Sharks out of their game pretty much all night long.  Is that the Claude Noel formula - disrupt, disrupt, disrupt?  I still can't put my finger on where he wants to go with this team.  Sure, he's playing the kids, spreading the minutes and keeping the atmosphere about 12 shades lighter than under Ken Hitchcock, but I still don't have a read on where he hopes to take this team down the line.

But when he's 3-0-0, should I really care?  Or should I just sit back and enjoy this little ride?

1 comment:

  1. Nice take -- I like the comparison of Olympians.

    My sense is Noel is looking to see where his skill lies and how players react under different settings. First, I imagine Howson want's to get Noel's input on various players to aid in evaluating potential deals. Secondly, I sense that he is all about speed and conditioning -- he may be seeing how various players size up in those areas.

    Nice work!


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