Sunday, November 21, 2010

Game 18/San Jose: My Take

The Columbus Blue Jackets wrapped up what could only be described as a magical West Coast road trip by defeating the San Jose Sharks, 3-0, at the dreaded Shark Tank.

Rick Nash scored all three goals, with two ball caps hitting the ice after his empty netter in the closing minute of play.  It's becoming more and more evident that the coaching staff had a talk with Rick, telling him to stop being a playmaker for his teammates and start working toward a Rocket Richard Trophy.  Guess that's what happens when your team can't score more than three a game.  Matters not, the scoring is a treat to watch.

Mathieu Garon stopped all 36 shots that he saw.  While his saves aren't as gaudy as Steve Mason's, Garon feels like a sure thing.  Put him in net, and everything's going to be all right.  And, in the face of Thornton, Marleau, Heatley, Pavelski and the rest of the Sharks, it was.  Which is very nice.

Despite the fact that the Blue Jackets pretty much played in a manner that kept the Sharks out of their game all night long, the Blue Jackets are only begrudgingly getting their due - even in a shutout win:
The loss was historic -- the first regulation victory in San Jose for a Columbus franchise that joined the NHL a decade ago -- but Sharks coach Todd McLellan was more concerned about the present than the past.

"I don't want to take anything away from Garon," McLellan said. "But a lot of that was our team being out of sync. I don't know if I've seen our team mishandle so many good passes, breakout opportunities, pucks in the offensive zone. "... That's very disturbing, and something we need to address."


"We know they're not Columbus of last year or years past," McLellan had said before the game. "We know that going in. There aren't any surprises."
Sigh.  I can't wait for the when an opposing coach puts the coach-speak aside and says, "We got beat by a better team."  Lord knows we as Blue Jackets fans have heard that enough over the years.  Guess it takes time to become a team that "sucks," and it'll take time to overcome that reputation.

Beyond Nash and Garon's impressive performances, the Sharks were sent sprawling all night long by the Blue Jackets - into the boards, across the ice, etc.  I cannot recall this ever happening before, which begs the question about whether the Sharks suddenly became physically weak or the Blue Jackets have become bruisers in a way that Ken Hitchcock could have only drooled about in his quiet moments.

To their credit, however, the Sharks resisted playing the St. Louis card and really did not Get Their Goon On when they realized that the game was falling out of reach.  They largely tried to play it straight and win on talent.  That shows a level of class (and perhaps self-confidence) that is admirable.

Another great win on what was a great road trip.  Heady times in Columbus, indeed!

NEXT UP: The Nashville Predators apparently have been vacationing in Columbus since yesterday, waiting for the Blue Jackets to show up.  Gonna be a big game on Monday at Nationwide.  More on that tomorrow. 

1 comment:

  1. I don't expect a coach to say that, for it's an admission that his team couldn't have done anything to change the outcome. But I'd like respect from the press that these Blue Jackets are for real.



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