Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Game 67/Anaheim: My Take
Considering that the Blue Jackets were playing without Rick Nash and Kristian Huselius, and that they put both Derek MacKenzie and Maxim Mayorov into the lineup only a half-hour after the pair got off the cross-country flight from Syracuse, that the Jackets won at all is surprising. That they took it to the Ducks like they did - with a physical, in your face style that would make former Ducks GM Brian "Truculence" Burke proud - is even more so.
I mean, look at this penalty summary - it's a freakin' who's who on both rosters:
And these weren't your garden-variety penalties, either. SIX fighting majors? Yow. At a couple of points, the penalty boxes were so full that the Jackets and Ducks could have had competing Euchre tournaments in each sin bin.
This was the second straight night of ridiculously late starts for the Jackets. I won't lie, I fell asleep in the third period and woke to learn that the Jackets won. The third sounds like it was a blast, as Anaheim dropped 17 shots on the very proficient Mathieu Garon (to the Jackets' 4 - oh...maybe the "No shot, no goal" message needs some reinforcement) and grabbed two goals before the Jackets closed the door with two of their own.
A good game for the Jackets, and a VERY strong rebound against the humiliation that was the Los Angeles game.
Beyond the scoring and penalties, two big thoughts:
I have to be very careful in how I say this because I really like watching Nash play and think that the Jackets don't promote him in this town like they should, but I wonder if the Jackets wouldn't be better off in the Nashville mode of having three or four really strong players rather than one superstar and a cast of extras. Nash is so good that he just sucks the oxygen out of the room with the Jackets. Perhaps part of his challenge as Captain - one I'm betting that he's identified already - is to pick his places to take over and also those places to lay low and let the rest of the team perform. Quite a conundrum.
Or maybe it was just that Kristian Huselius didn't suit up. Another very plausible answer.
As we all know, Filatov is on a one-season loan to the KHL's CSKA Moscow (the old Red Army team) and while the Jackets own his rights, there's no "transfer agreement" between the NHL and KHL. That means that Filatov can thumb his nose at the NHL and the CBJ, sign a KHL contract and play the rest of his career in Russia with no meaningful penalty. Nikita's going to have to be 'sold' on the NHL again - and particularly the Jackets - in order to get him back over here. Scott Howson 'sold' Rick Nash on the CBJ master plan last summer, and he's going to need to do the same for Filatov this summer. I really think Mayorov is part of the plan.
Mayorov had an OK first game - didn't embarass himself and clearly has some talent but needs to finish better. He's probably not NHL caliber right now but is not too far away -- and he's only 20 years old, so there's some upside to investing minutes in him now. We'll take any goals he can provide, but I really think his presence on the roster is less about him and more about Filatov. To that end, I won't be surprised to see Mayorov finish out the string in Columbus this season and take a 3rd/4th line role next season, giving Filatov a 'Russian buddy' in the locker room.