|Anaheim 7 - Columbus 4|
11-25-5, 5th in Central Division, 15th in Western Conference
In the third game of this four game road trip, the Blue Jackets lost to the Anaheim Ducks by a score of 7-4. It was a wild one on several levels.
1. Why? That is the question many Blue Jackets fans were asking when they learned Steve Mason was getting the start over Curtis Sanford, who had just posted the team's first shutout of the season one night earlier against a red-hot L.A Kings team. Counting the San Jose game, his first game back since injuring his right hip two weeks ago, Sanford had stopped 68 of 70 shots on this roadie, a .971 save percentage.
Mason, on the other hand, hadn't started since riding herd on a kick-in-the-gut 4-2 loss to Washington at home on New Years Eve, a game in which he surrendered all four goals in the third period to eviscerate a 2-0 Jackets lead. For whatever reason (and who really cares what it was), Arniel opted to go with Mason against the Ducks. If Mason's New Year's resolution was not to give up four goals in a period again, it only lasted eight days.
Mason got beat every which way in the first period, giving up four goals on 16 shots. After letting in a high glove-side snapper by Andrew Cogliano off a juicy rebound, Mason proceeded to get beat high glove side again by Corey Perry, on a wrap-a-round by Teemu Selanne after it appeared Mason quit on the play and lost the puck behind the net, and finally on a five-hole wrister by Saku Koivu. I will add the usual caveats: the team came out flat, turned the puck over charitably and got outshot 16-8 in the first period. Still, even Arniel had seen enough of Mason at that point.
So, for those counting at home, that's 8 goals against on 24 shots for Mason in his last two periods. With Mark Dekanich now rehabbing in Springfield, the Blue Jackets might finally have a viable alternative to keeping Mason on the roster. As for the long term, here's something to consider that DBJ himself dug up (which he tweeted to me from his "undisclosed location'). Seems like a reasonable expenditure of a million and some change at this point, doesn't it?
2. Did Anyone Stay At A Holiday Inn Express Last Night? The game was a costly one for the Blue Jackets. Jeff Carter suffered a separated shoulder early in the third period after getting blasted by former Blue Jacket Francois Beuachemin on a blindside hit as Carter was coming though the neutral zone. Just Thursday night the Jackets lost Mark Letestu for an extended time to a broken right hand. Tomas Kubalik was brought up on emergency recall Sunday when it was determined that Ryan Johansen couldn't go due to a bruise suffered from blocking a shot late in the L.A. game. If Johansen is unable to suit up on Tuesday night in Chicago, and even if he can, the Jackets will likely be forced to dip further into the Springfield roster.
3. The Ninth Rule Of Fight Club Is Squirt the Fans Speaking of Beauchemin, he was all over the ice the entire game lobbying to get his name changed to Douchemin. He would eventually garner a game misconduct in what turned out to be a very testy affair, and not just on the ice. At one point, with Boll, Dorsett and MacKenzie all sitting out for various misdeeds, an "altercation" ensued between the Jackets In The Box (sorry, couldn't stop that one) and some fans just on the other side of the glass. Viewers of the Fox Sports telecast were not treated to a full explanation of what occurred, only that it involved "more than just words." Play was stopped while multiple fans were escorted from the arena, the last one requiring a "heavy police presence".
For his part, Boll entered a plea of not guilty. "Mac wanted a drink, so I squirted some in his direction."
In addition, the game featured four major penalties, two other game misconducts (D-Mac and Dorsett), 69 total penalty minutes, and two decisive beatdowns: Dorsett over Matt Belesky, and Boll over Sheldon Brookbank. Throw in some cheap shots along the boards, the devastating hit on Carter, and a vicious elbow to R.J. Umberger's head that should earn Jean-Francois Jacques a suspension. As humiliating losses to bad teams go, this one was at least somewhat compelling.
4. The Moment Of Truth Despite the abysmal display by Mason, despite all the turnovers and penalties, despite a complete lack of an effective forecheck and virtually no ability to control the puck, the Jackets found themselves down only 6-4 when Jacques was sent off for a five minute elbowing major at 14:17 of the third. Jackets fans crept a little closer to the edge of their seats.
What followed was one of the lamest power plays fans have seen all year (ever?). The Jackets didn't register a shot and couldn't keep the puck in the offensive zone for more than 10 seconds at a time. This made things relatively stress-free for Iiro Tarkki, who made his NHL debut in goal at the beginning of the second period after Jonas Hiller suffered a lower body injury late in the first. It was well over, and Jackets fan had already slunk back into their seats, when Corey Perry bagged an empty-netter for the hattie at 19:17. 7-4 Ducks.
5. That's not a streak . . . THIS is a Streak! This had all the makings of the ugly affair it turned out to be. The Jackets were gunning for their first back-to-back road wins since March 12-19, 2011 and their first back-to-back regulation wins since February 22-25, 2011. The Ducks were looking for their first back-to-back wins since October 16-17 of this year . Of course, the Ducks' streak proved to be worthless and weak, and should drop down and give the Jacket's streak ten pushups.
Bonus Thought: Halfway Home The first half of the season is dead and can now be given a proper burial. 11-25-5. RIP.