With this loss, the Columbus Blue Jackets are eliminated from 2011 Stanley Cup playoff contention.
Rather than dwell on what we all knew was coming, think about this:
- You're a professional hockey player for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
- You're fresh off of reading the newspaper article about how your owner is planning to do a long-overdue scrubbing of the franchise (Was it to stimulate season ticket sales, who knows? All we know is he said it.)
- You learned that your captain and only recognizable player (at least for good reasons) is out with an injury.
- You know that tonight's game is one of the very few (only?) of the season on national television.
If you're a Columbus Blue Jackets rookie, you decide to steal some spotlight. Rookies Matt Calvert and Tomas Kubalik - playing in his first NHL game ever, mind you - each grabbed two assists on the night. Calvert's been a little quiet of late, but he's slowly getting his game back in gear for a strong finish to the season. As for Kubalik, I had zero expectation for him tonight and am happy that he had a positive early experience with the Blue Jackets.
As for the rest of the team, you pretty much play like you're looking forward to perfecting your putts in a couple of weeks. To be fair, I'll throw bones to Antoine Vermette, who again looked like he's giving it his all out there, and Fedor Tyutin, who seems to have figured out most of what Scott Arniel wants defensemen to do. Scottie Upshall deserves props for keeping his nose to the goal. I'll also credit Steve Mason for recovering from his (expected) mindless early game goal allowed and locking down in the first period to keep the CBJ in the game when the offensive support was missing.
Beyond that, however, it was Romper Room again for most of the first period for the CBJ. I missed a fair bit of the second (family obligations), but it seemed like the Caps were content to sit on their one-goal lead and ride that to victory. The Jackets tied it up on a couple of occasions in the 2nd but again proved incapable of sustaining a good thing, letting Washington score rebuttal goals within roughly a minute of each of those 2nd period scores.
I suppose it's appropriate to close this out with a discussion of the overtime goal: