Sunday, February 13, 2011

Game 56/Dallas: My Take

The Columbus Blue Jackets paid ethically and perhaps legally-challenged coach Marc Crawford and his Dallas Stars a visit on Sunday afternoon and walked away with a 2-1 win in front of a half-empty arena.

As the saying goes, it wasn't even that close.  The Blue Jackets looked remarkably poised through most of the game, and the Stars honestly didn't look like they had their legs.

Steve Mason was on his game, stopping 29 of 30.  I need to do a home/away comparison on Mase because it seems as if he plays a simpler game on the road - like most of the team.  Simple isn't bad, though, when you're Steve Mason.  It's generally quite good.  Like today.

Oh yeah, Rick Nash had one of his "I'm Rick Nash and you're not" goals:



And Anton Stralman showed up. He played perhaps his best game of the year with two assists and a plus-two rating in just over 15 minutes of ice time. I'm thinking that this whole John Moore callup was the best thing to happen to Stralman. As I tweeted earlier, Stralman's career probably flashed before his eyes when Moore walked into the locker room. Talk about a wake-up call.

Other than that, I was a tad surprised that Crawford didn't indulge his inner goon and set the Stars loose on the CBJ when it was clear that Dallas couldn't keep up. Perhaps the Penguins-Islanders fiasco held him back - the League office probably is feeling a little touchy right now.

The San Jose game excepted, I've noticed a pleasant trend in the games that I've been able to watch (Colorado excepted - but thanks to Gallos for the great recap!). The Blue Jackets appear to play progressively better throughout the games. It started with Mase giving up 2 goals and the team crawling back (Edmonton). Now it's one goal and a near-total domination from that point on (Dallas). Whatever it takes, I suppose. I like it.

I gather that the CBJ are 8-3-2 since the January 14 game in Detroit. That's rather impressive - a pace not dissimilar from the roaring start that saw them scratching at first place in the Western Conference over Thanksgiving weekend. Hats off to Scott Arniel, his coaches and the team for getting their acts together and pulling out of the slump. Let's hope this late season rally isn't for naught.

WHERE THEY STAND: From here on out, I'm going to add this little nugget. I'm going to post the latest playoff probabilities for the CBJ per the Sports Club Stats site. It looks like Anaheim, up 4-0 as I type, will beat Edmonton tonight. That will put the Blue Jackets' playoff chances at right around 11%. Long odds, to be sure, but they were hovering around 3% earlier in the week. Every win is huge - as are losses by the right teams. Go check out this link and learn more about this mathematical formula to predict our chances at seeing the CBJ in the Stanley Cup Playoffs - as well as the relative impact of other games around the league on our chances.

NEXT UP: Wednesday night, Nationwide Arena, 7PM, Los Angeles Kings. The Kings are on fire through their road trip - should be one heck of a game. I'm glad that Arniel has a day of practice (he cancelled Monday's practice) to prep them. Things seem to work better on the ice with a practice in the bag.

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