Wednesday, January 11, 2012

DBJ's 5 Thoughts on Game 42: Chicago

Chicago 5 - Columbus 2
11-26-5, 5th in Central Div., 15th in Western Conf.
The Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Columbus by a score of 5-2 on Tuesday night in Todd Richards debut as the interim head coach of the Blue Jackets. For the Blackhawks, it snapped a four game winless streak. For the Blue Jackets it was the end of brutal four game road trip.

1. Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes Reeling from the firing of Scott Arniel and injuries to Mark Letestu (broken hand) and Jeff Carter (separated shoulder), the Blue Jackets limped into Chicago for the debut of Todd Richards behind the bench. Richards first order of business was to announce that under his watch playing time would have to be earned. The problem, at least for his first game, was that given the circumstances of losing two top six guys on the tail end of an extended road trip he didn't have a lot of options.

Richards' pairings shaped out like this: Nash-Brassard-Prospal (seems reasonable), Vermette-Johansen-Kubalik (yikes!), Umberger-Pahlsson-Dorsett (love it), and Boll-D-Mac-Russell (sure, why not). Clitsome was the healthy scratch on the blue line (hmmmm) and the pairings were Tyutin-Nikitin (no brainer), Moore-Methot (seems reasonable) and Savard-Johnson (and prayers). The results were about what you would expect. The Jackets were adept at moving the puck out of their zone and through the neutral zone, but once past the blue line they lacked cohesion and chemistry. Still, they showed some quickness and battled hard, keeping the Hawks from registering their second shot until 12:30 into the first period. They would go on to out-shoot the Hawks 34-25 for the game, but quality scoring chances were too few and far between to stay competitive with the Hawks.

2. Your mom is so  . . . . One thing that stayed consistent through a tumultuous road trip was Jared Boll being a class A pain in the other team's duff. At 13:45 in the first, Boll hit Andrew Brunette along the boards. That prompted Steve Montador to challenge Boll, something he probably wished he didn't have to do. Boll ended up with five for fighting. Montador ended up with two for instigating, two for unsportsmanlike conduct, five for fighting and 10 for misconduct. Unfortunately, the Jackets were unable to capitalize on the resulting 4 minute power play.

At 3:37 in the second, Boll went back to work. Almost the exact sequence played out again, only this time it was Niklas Hjalmarsson that Boll checked into the boards and Jamal Mayers who stood up for him. Mayers earned two for instigating, five for fighting and 10 for misconduct. The Jackets would fail again to capitalize on the resulting power play. All told, Boll took 10 in penalty minutes and drew 36, a more than favorable exchange.

Earlier in the day, Puck Daddy provided a version of events, as told by Ducks fans, surrounding the altercation between Boll, Dorsett and said fans seated near the penalty box Sunday night in Anaheim. According to Ducks fans, Boll let one fan know in a rouundabout way that he didn't think his mom was a very nice person. Maybe Billy will sit down with Boll for one of those feel good segments in the locker room and they can trade Yo Momma jokes. I'd watch that.

3. Hail to the Viktor Viktor Freaking Stalberg! After netting his first career hat trick on Tuesday night, Stalberg now has seven goals in four games against the Jackets this year. Who is this guy? I mean I know who he is, but what makes him tick? Besides visions of Blue Jackets goalies. Speaking of hatties, the Jackets are selling a lot of head gear around the league these days.

4. Ryan Johighstick Ryan Johansen was assessed another high sticking penalty, his third in two games. Kubalik also picked one up in this game. One thing Todd Richards will hopefully instill in this team, and particularly the youngsters, is discipline. At least he subscribes to the "first things first" principle. His first practice with the team was mostly dedicated to the penalty kill. (Credit to @cmanesh_ for the nickname.)

5. Howson's Wish List One of the more entertaining moments of the telecast came during the first intermission when Jeff Rimer interviewed Scott Howson. Rimer did his best to get Howson to divulge what he might be looking for in the trade market. First Rimer asked him what parts of the Jackets roster might need improvement. Howson gave a very evasive answer along the lines of needing to work on goals against. Rimer tried again, this time asking Howson what might be on his "wish list." Howson seemed almost amused by the question, offering this gem in response: "My wish list would be for some of our players to start playing to their capabilities." You and me both, sir.

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