Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Game 36/Minnesota: My Take

The Columbus Blue Jackets finally shed their notorious "third jersey curse" last night with a 4-3 shootout win over the Minnesota Wild in front of 14,454 fans.

I'm going to temper my enthusiasm a bit with this win.  After all, it's two teams at the back of the "Western Conference" pack struggling to keep from falling further behind the pack.  But it was two badly-needed points, and we can't overlook that important fact.

Scratches last night were Rusty Klesla, Jake Voracek and Derek Dorsett.  Interesting collection in the press box. Rusty is leading the team in plus/minus, Voracek is one of the few consistent top-two liners and Dorsett is perhaps the CBJ's prototypical "energy" player.  One could surmise that the roster shuffle was somehow related to the one-on-one meetings that coach Scott Arniel had with a number of CBJ players over the course of the day.  Whether the Chris Clarks and Mike Commodores of the world lobbied their way onto the ice, or whether the aforementioned trio talked their way off the gametime roster, I have no idea.  Or, perhaps, it had no impact whatsoever.

One guy who came down from the press box with a vengeance was Fedor Tyutin.  Almost seven minutes into the third period, Tyutin made a rocket shot from the point that no one saw coming:



He also was huge on another late rush opportunity. For someone who many thought was totally incompatible with this puck possession style of play, Tyutin may still have some rough edges...but he's picking it up as the season moves along.


Derick Brassard also scored a nice goal, something that's good to see as he was minus his Czech security blanket (Voracek) last night.  I was genuinely interested to see how Brass would perform without his frequent line-mate - though not permanent, as Brass still finds his way into a demotion to the fourth line on occasion - and he held his own.  I've just reconciled myself that he's not progressing into a classic down-the-middle, park your rear in the crease type of the center.  But he is playing OK, with 9 goals already this season.

Steve Mason, in my estimation, had one goal that was all on him - the Cal Clutterbuck goal in the 3rd.  The other two were the result of Mase getting hung out to dry by his defensive corps.  Mase stopped 37 of 40 shots, a strong rebound after sitting on the bench for a few games and having a coaching staff intervention.  Mase's increasing confidence throughout the game apparently was infectious, as the team played with more and more fire as he looked stronger and stronger between the pipes.

The refs may or may not have sucked, but the fact that Minnesota had nine power plays and the CBJ had none at all is very suspect.

The perfect three-for-three on the shootout attempts (Nash, Wilson, Huselius) pretty much had me slack-jawed. What happened to the Columbus Blue Jackets team I knew?

All told, the first period was not good at all.  The second period was OK.  The third period and overtime were pretty strong.  But again, nothing I saw tonight sways me from my feelings that the Blue Jackets cannot be expected to consistently win games against good teams.  The Minnesota Wild are not a good team, sorry.

We got our two points (and in front of one of our larger home crowds, thankfully!), but a personnel change needs to happen if the Jackets want to make the playoffs this season.

2 comments:

  1. I couldn't get over how biased the refs were.. It was as if they were only being paid to officiate the Jackets and not the Wild. Great assessment on Mase, and you could tell he was upset about letting that third one in. While I do think he overcommitted, I wish the defense disrupted Clutterbuck a bit... Seemed like a pretty bad break on an otherwise fantastic evening between the pipes.

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  2. That Clutterbuck goal in the 3rd really put Mason back into a bad place. He really struggled on the next few shots. It was good to see him come out so strong in the OT period and I think he can take alot from this game.
    I don't entirely agree that Minnesota is bad team though. I think in the West we've got four teams that are established: Vancouver and Detroit (very good); Calgary and Edmonton (very bad). Beyond those four there are some good teams that have been cold, some bad teams that have been hot, and some in between. The CBJ showed some determination last night to get those points and determination is one thing that's been lacking of late.

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