Tuesday, January 17, 2012

DBJs 5 Thoughts on Game 45: Edmonton

Tonight, the Blue Jackets staged a well fought battle to come from behind and beat the Edmonton Oilers 4-2 bringing them to 2-1-0 to date during this brief home stand and 2-2-0 under new interim Coach, Todd Richards.

In a continued "reversal of fortune", after a dismally flat first 10-12 minutes, the Jackets erased a 2 goal deficit and answered back with 4 straight goals - including an empty net shot by Derek Dorsett - to win the game. To sum it all up:

1. Time Out! About half way through the first period, fans struggled to stay engaged and hopeful after two unanswered Edmonton goals, and listless Jackets play. It was then that Coach Richards chose to take a time out. Later we would hear that Richards wanted to refocus his team and remind them that they were "better than that". Well, whatever he said, it worked; the team responded to Richards' words and slowly built up the momentum through the balance of the period. After a first intermission during which we would learn later that the team was left to challenge each other to step up, we saw them seize control of the game and finish strong. I'd certainly take a slow start any day of the week if it results in a win such as tonight.

2. Tsk. Tsk. We had some sloppy penalties tonight - including one for Dorsett that was the result of some rather colorful chirping - and as a result, we had our penalty kill on display. A friend had alerted me to watch for Richards' style on the PK which, as you may have noticed is a more aggressive approach meant to overbear the puck carrier and try to eliminate the time the opposing team has with the puck passing and setting up the shot. Had I not been aware of this, my novice eyes probably would not have picked it up - but watch for it now that you know. That IS what is happening and it seemed effective tonight.

3. Hello, Colton Gillies. The newest Jacket took to the ice, in the starting lineup no less, wearing number 9. We had heard that Colton brought size to the team and a lot of as yet unrecognized potential. A friend who attended Monday's practice also pointed out his "good hands" to me. While he didn't stand out a lot early in the game - let's chalk that up to first game with a new team - he had a beautiful assist to Derek MacKenzie to tap in the go ahead goal in the 3rd period. That seemed to loosen him up just a bit and he seemed to start banging about the ice a bit more and appear more comfortable. Consider me optimistic on what this guy can bring as he builds chemistry and gets some more TOI.

4. Get Well Taylor Hall. Immediately upon sitting down in our seats we were greeted with the news that Taylor Hall was injured. Later, we'd learn he took a skate to the crown of his head and received 30 stitches on site at Nationwide Arena - with full compliments to the medical staff. Obviously, the Oilers were without Hall's skill tonight, and this only added to Edmonton's woes with Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins already out of the lineup. I'd take this as a Jackets' advantage except we all already know all the guys without whom we are playing. So let's call it even.

We do wish Taylor well and hope he gets well soon. You can see video of the injury below.

5. Derick Brassard. In my last recap from Friday's game, I cited both Derick Brassard and Derek Dorsett, and while all three stars went to Jackets named Derek or Derick, tonight, I'm choosing to single out Derick Brassard. While some may consider three games within the confines of a "new coach bounce", I'm ready to call this a "return to form". Brass has simply been a different player. None of us knows the dynamics that went down between him and Arniel but, the change in coaching has certainly lifted a weight off Brass' shoulders. He is playing with energy, leadership and determination. After a defensive breakdown that ultimately would lead to the first goal, it was Brass throwing himself as the last line of defense. That type of hard fought play continued all night - throughout the game you saw him wanting to be "the guy" on both ends of the ice. Brass, welcome back!

In summary, what started as a dull dull game, resulted in some spirited hockey and, more importantly a win for our beloved Blue Jackets. If you will indulge me one last point, I'd like to quickly reference something I unfortunately witnessed tonight off the ice (and shared earlier on twitter). Thanks to the CBJ Black Friday promotion, we were not in our regular seats. Seated towards the back of tonight's section was an older woman, clearly a long time fan, decked out in her original logo jersey, scarf and waving her flag. While Nationwide sat silent, she diligently (and respectfully) would cheer: "Let's Go Jackets!" "You can do it..." Apparently, others in our section felt this was deserving of public ridicule. This group included three young kids whose dad sat watching the kids heckle, as he laughed. Look, I get it. We're not all gonna get along. Some things we do are going to annoy others. But, hot tip, if you go to any sporting event you should expect cheering and noise. And, as CBJ fans we should want our home arena to have said cheering and noise. Please respect your fellow fans and, if you're not willing to cheer on your team, at least appreciate those who do.

Let's Go Jackets!

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