|Tampa Bay 3 - Columbus 2|
9-19-4, 5th in Central Division, 15th in Western Conference
1. Congratulations, Vinny Prospal - The most enjoyable part of the evening was the pregame ceremony for Vinny Prospal, who played his 1,000th NHL game earlier in the season. At 36, Prospal is the team's leading point scorer - leading captain Rick Nash by four points. Not only is he productive, but he's a leader in fact if not in jersey letter. In fact, Derek Dorsett went out of his way a few games back in the radio postgame show to single out Prospal as a player that he's learning from and modeling himself after. A terrific guy to have around, indeed.
|Vinny Prospal - A leader in both|
word and deed
The ceremony can't be overlooked for the message it sends to Prospal: "We appreciate you." After playing for six other teams in his long career and hitting the playoffs nine times, this season (and perhaps this club) has to be a tremendous disappointment. While so much has gone wrong, Prospal has spoken truth to power and demonstrated genuine effort when on the ice.
I honestly doubt that Prospal, who is under contract to the CBJ only this season, will come back to Columbus barring a serious change in circumstances. Heck, I doubt he'll even make it past the trade deadline. But let's be clear - we need Vinny Prospal in Columbus. Badly. And we need a half-dozen more Vinny Prospals. So perhaps tonight's ceremony might have been more than celebrating one of the NHL's iron men...perhaps it was the opening salvo in trying to retain a surprisingly valuable free agent.
2. The wisdom of veterans - Speaking of Prospal, he raised an interesting point in the post-game interview: The Jackets have had a devil of a time getting goals from in close - the greasy goals, if you will. He's so right. Again. Which makes R.J. Umberger's (Yes, Umberger!) wraparound goal so surprising:
|What an incredible comeback for Derek Dorsett.|