Sunday, January 1, 2012

DBJ's 5 Thoughts on Game 38: Washington

Washington 4 - Columbus 2
10-23-5, 5th in Central Division, 15th in Western Conference
In front of a sold-out crowd at Nationwide Arena on New Year's Eve, the Columbus Blue Jackets lost in regulation to the visiting Washington Capitals, 4-2.

1. CREATIVITY IN DEFEAT - Whereas the last collapse was a last second implosion, this one took the entire third period to develop.  The CBJ had a 2-0 lead going into the second intermission and gave up FOUR goals in the third period to not only lose, but lose big.  As they say, this was a team loss.  The entire team.  Coaches and players.

2. NOT EXACTLY RISING TO THE MOMENT - Of course, this meltdown had to happen in front of a sell-out crowd and even Mayor Coleman.  Why is it that the Blue Jackets lay some of their biggest eggs in front of their biggest crowds on their highest profile nights?

2a. WAY TO GO, YOUR HONOR - One of the benefits of having a hockey-illiterate mayor is that he stiffs one of the sports best-marketed stars (Alexander Ovechkin) on a handshake following the ceremonial opening faceoff.  Tacky, yes.  Funny, yes.

3. DBJ's UNABASHED POSITIVE COMMENT - In fairness, the first two periods showed a Blue Jackets team that looked remarkably strong.  I was a bit surprised - they fought for the puck, protected the goal and really pushed the puck up the ice.  In fact, I thought that the pendulum actually was swinging away from the more recent faux-Hitch Hockey scheme back to the - ummm, fast break? - scheme that Arniel supposedly was hired to implement.  It was fun to watch and getting strong results (The Dispatch's Portzline tweeted something to the extent of, "This was the CBJ we were supposed to get in 2011-12"), and I was hoping that the Blue Jackets could keep it going for the final twenty minutes.

4. SAY WHAT? - One of the things about coach Scott Arniel for which I've developed a grudging respect is his ability to maintain a degree of dignity and grace under what must be incredible pressure.  I won't get into his culpability in the Blue Jackets' performance but instead want to emphasize that he's been calm, reasonably thoughtful and - while he's often delivered the hockey cliches with the best of them - answers the questions put forth.  That's not to be expected of every coach, especially under circumstances like the Blue Jackets over the past 12-plus months.

Then there's tonight's post-game press conference.  In what ended up being the final question of the presser, Lori Schmidt of 97.1 The Fan asked Arniel about the team's rough 4-on-4 play.  Seeing as the Blue Jackets have been outscored 8-1 in 4-on-4 this season, it was a reasonable question.  Here's the exchange:


First, put Arniel's tone aside.  Not knowing that his team wasn't getting it done on 4-on-4 is a little disconcerting.  I mean, the man is paid to, among other things, identify performance problems and design schemes that fix them.  How can he offer a fix if he isn't cognizant of the issues?  

Now the exchange.  Lori is one of the more even-keeled sports reporters in town, and her question was legitimate.  Arniel clearly was tired and frustrated, but he lost his cool.  That's not a good thing to do when your job could very well be hanging by a thread.  Which brings me to...

5. IS THERE EVER A GOOD TIME TO CLEAN HOUSE? - With New Year's Eve out of the way, the Blue Jackets don't play again until Thursday night when they kick off their road trip.  Considering that CBJ general manager Scott Howson finally has said that things are not going well and that change could be a'coming, it sure makes sense to make whatever changes - players, coaches, both? - right now because it gives new players and/or coaches three days to adjust before the next game.  The next such long stretch between games is at the end of January, when the CBJ have nothing going between the games on 24th and the 31st.  I'm just guessing that either (both?) of these two stretches will the be points in time where we see significant changes - if they are to happen at all.  

Bonus number 6. HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!

NEXT UP: As I said, nothing doing until Thursday night when the Blue Jackets hit the Shark Tank for a 10:30PM matchup against the San Jose Sharks.  

3 comments:

  1. Man I don't think I've ever seen Scott Arniel like that before! I can't believe he lost his cool like that. I mean I don't blame him with how things have been going for him. But he is a professional and should know better. Oh well. Happy New Year! And here's to hoping 2012 will be a bit friendlier to out CBJ than 2011 was!

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  2. In the center of Buckeye land, we are used to winning. Enter S Arniel and L Fickle, I don't think any of us can imagine the pressure of thousands of fans wanting your head, telling you what you ought to do etc.
    Having said that, the CBJ blogging community does have a lot of statistics as we truly want the time to win and analysis is all we have, as we have no input into the actual decisions. I'm sure the blogs are not followed by the leaders of the team, but there is some good information provided.

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  3. Happy New Year!

    You have the best blog about Columbus Blue Jackets in the Internet:)

    and next year we will definitely win the Stanley Cup!

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