|It was Vinny Prospal's night!|
And now, on to the five thoughts on the game:
1. Vinny's Night - It was fitting that Prospal's 1000th game would come on game 22, his number, and that his teammates would respond with a very solid effort. During the bad times of our horrible start, it was often that Vinny's play was the only bright spot, and it seemed like he was an important catalyst to turning this thing around. What a consummate professional, and it was a stroke of luck that allowed us Jackets fans to truly experience Vinny.
The team will present him with the traditional silver hockey stick for 1000 games prior to the December 17 game against the Tampa Bay Lightening, an organization where Vinny played nearly 500 games. It is fitting that Vinny's old mates would be in the barn for this celebration.
2. Consistent, Solid Play - The CBJ have been turning in some very solid efforts, on a very consistent basis. Home/Road, with lead/playing behind, they seem to have found their groove. The whole lineup is contributing, and the effort is tangible across the board. Very nice to see. This was especially evident last night at the beginning of the second period. Even though they had a two goal lead, they clearly still had their foot on the gas. What is fueling that ......?
3. The Sand Man - Curtis Sanford continues his very strong play in goal. He really shut things down, and was especially solid in a couple of Buffalo flurries of shots early on in the game. He has a 1.27 GAA and a save percentage of .950 according to NHL.com. These are sparkling numbers.
4. The Captain - Rick Nash and his line of Vinny Prospal and Jeff Carter continue to build chemistry. Its no secret that in 2011-12 the best line for the CBJ in any given game had Vinny Prospal on it. But Nash was hustling all over the ice last night, and Jeff Carter put in another stellar performance. The pass Carter made to Nash for his second goal was at the other end of the ice from us, but all accounts say it was a beauty. This bodes well for the hockey club if these guys continue building this chemistry. On paper, this could be one of the most dangerous lines in the NHL. They are starting to work their way up there.
5. RyJo - Ryan Johansen continues to play a very solid all around game. He really wired a shot in on goal that Enroth had trouble handling, leaving a juicy rebound up the slot that Mark Letestu tapped home for that all important first goal. Good play by Letestu to get to the dirty spot, good play by RyJo to uncork one. My favorite Johansen play of the game occurred after the Jackets had a 4-0 lead in the second period, and happened right in front of us. The play was away on the far boards, and at the edge of the crease, in front of Sanford, RyJo was absolutely locked up in hand/stick to hand/stick combat with a Buffalo player, denying him good position and ability to play the puck at the edge of the crease. Excellent, dirty, greasy, unrewarding work by the rookie. He continues to play well in all facets of the game.
6. Bonus Thought - The Fans/The Stars - I think it was RyJo who started the tradition of passing a stick over the glass when named a star. Some lucky fan got a stick from Vinny Prospal on his 1000th game last night. Pretty cool. But really what I wanted to talk about was the obvious happiness and pride that Rick Nash showed as the number one star, calling out the fans in his interview. The barn was loud last night, and he knew they had put on a good show, and silenced a large opposing crowd. He was obviously happy. So were the fans.
7. Bonus Though #2 - The Arch City Army - I wanted to call out the Arch City Army in this post, as every time the Buffalo fans, especially early in the game, got the notion that they wanted to get a Buffalo chant going, the ACA got the Jackets fans fired up. Well done, well done indeed.
A big win, and a goalie chased. It was a good night to be a Jackets fan!