Here are some highlights from last night's game, a 2-1 win over the Atlanta Thrashers. Notably missing from the Blue Jacket's line-up was captain Rick Nash, along with the newly acquired Nathan Paetsch. Chris Chelios also played in his first NHL game of the season last night, previously having played with the Thrasher's AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves.
Blue Jackets goals: Umberger from Huselius and Tyutin; Huselius from Russell and Dorsett
Thrashers goals: Oduya from Kozlov
I had the pleasure of going to this game. I got the tickets originally because I wanted to see Kovalchuk play... but we all know how that turned it! It was nice, though, that Chelios played (maybe nice isn't the right word. Perhaps "interesting"?).
But there was this man, #80: Nik Antropov. During his first shift I thought, "dang, this guy is huge". That thought quickly changed to "wow, he is a jerk". Jerk may not have been how I originally described him. But, it seems that he can't take a hit: he apparently didn't appreciate Boll so he elbowed him in the face. The ensuing power play, along with a sweet move/failed shot block by Chelios, led to the Blue Jacket's first goal. Throughout the entire game Antropov was tangled up with Boll and Pahlsson. At one point Pahlsson and Atropov fell on top of each other along the boards, and Antropov proceeded to give him a little extra shove with #26 was down. Pahlsson then laid a hit on him - and Antropov, once again, showed why I dislike him. He looked at the ref, as if he was expecting a penalty to be called. Ugh, please. Antropov later at the end of the second period got a minor for cross-checking Pahlsson (Boll in turn got two minutes for roughing Antropov, so there was no powerplay).
I was excited to see the top line start off as 18-16-93. I would like to see Brassard stay as the #1 center for the rest of the season. Instead, Brassard bounced around lines all night. There were a ton of other line changes as well and I just couldn't keep them straight. At one point, Dorsett was on the top line.
I thought the defensive play was much better in this game, comparatively. I was especially impressed by Marc Methot who led the team with seven hits and three blocked shots. IHC Claude Noel had this to say about Methot's play:
I thought Methot was real good, really good. I think he's playing really well, really playing with passion, playing physical. He's a good skater [and] he's playing with a lot more confidence.
Although I didn't notice the faceoff that Noel referred to as to why he benched Mayorov (Noel said Mayorov basically ignored his responsibilities after the faceoff) I did notice Mayorov leave a play to wait at the point for a breakaway opportunity. He did get the puck and carried it down the ice, but lost an edge behind the net and fell on his butt. I have liked watching him play though so hopefully he gets a talking to. It looks like they will need him the next game because Portzline has tweeted that Huselius and Nash will both be out for tomorrow's game against the St. Louis Blues.
The Blue Jackets had one shot in the third period. The Thrashers had 17. In his post-game presser Noel said, "we had one shot, gimme a break". Yeah.
Is the hard hat no longer being awarded? If it was - I didn't notice (please let me know). I would have given it to Vermette. He didn't have any shots but won 13 of 20 faceoffs, and was all over the place, making things happen.
What did you think of the game? I am especially curious as to what others think about Huselius' play last night. He finished with two points (one goal and one assist), so his stats look okay, but I thought he was infuriating to watch, especially on the power play.
An "interesting tidbit," as our favorite writers at the Dispatch might say: last I checked, the O'Clitsome St. Patrick's Day themed jersey was going for more money than Nash's.
Also, here is a fun interview with RJ Umberger about the first time he skated, his pregame rituals, and who he would like to put a big hit on:
Probably Ryan Kesler. He plays real hard, he plays in your face, he's got a nasty edge. We have a little bit of a history, too. It's fun to compete against someone like that because it brings all that out.
Photos: Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images