|Steve Mason - Not the Solution|
1. Turn overs in the low slot - No, the Preds did not win the game on the Power Play, like Rimmer said. The CBJ lost the game with brutal turnovers in the low slot, allowing Mr. Underwood to bury a beauty early, and Matt Halischuk (huh??) to bury one late. Honestly I thought the latter was one he just threw at the net and got lucky, but somehow, the three BlueJackets repeatedly coughing the puck up contrived to give him the space to make a pretty good shot off a spin move, and go top shelf blocker side on Mason. Mason has to take the low shot on that blind spin move, so not much of a chance there. Also Mason had no chance on Mr. Underwood's shot.
2. Steve Mason - Mason, as earlier in the year, was not the problem, and not the solution. He was hung out to dry on a couple of turnovers, the first power play goal was 3 players, Weber, Mr. Underwood, and whoever was setting the highly effective screen, against Mason (I couldn't catch their number). Mason stopped Weber's shot, but the rebound went right to Mr. Underwood for his second goal. Theoretically, there were up to four BlueJackets involved in this play. None of them were around the three Nashville players however. The last goal was a nice deflection in front of the net by Hornqvist.
Its time to start refocusing our thoughts about Mason. For the rest of this year, and next year, he will make an adequate, and very young back up goal tender. Obviously, Sanford has taken over the starting job this year, and we will need to acquire a starting goal tender in the off season. Mason started this game out pretty solid, really started scrambling after the first goal, and then settled down to play some pretty good hockey for the second, and most of the third period. Its clear that he does not have Nashville's defense playing in front of him.
3. Penalty Kill/Penalties - Look, let's keep the record straight. The referees did not cost the CBJ this game. The bad turnovers cost them the game. That said, there were some pretty BS calls tonight. The make up call on too many men late in second in particular. And the call on Dorsett, ignoring the hook that set Door's penalty up. That said, kill the doggone penalties. AND, score on the Power Play!! The CBJ had several opportunities on the power play, and actually looked pretty good, but could not solve Rinne. In that sense, the goal tending was the difference, in that Nashville's goal tender kept us off the score sheet, in spite of some pretty good shots taken on our power play opportunities.
And, what makes me even more grumpy, is that I had this wicked good rant all lined up about playing Nash on penalty kill, only to have Richards dump him out on the PK for the last Nashville power play, and Suter promptly lofts a soft shot past him that gets tipped in for the goal. GRRRR. Ah what the heck, why waste a good rant. Here it goes (for those with sensitive hearing, please cover your ears, there will be some shouting):
HEY RICHARDS!! YOUR HOMEWORK OVER THE ALL STAR BREAK IS TO WATCH TAPE FROM 2008-09 WHEN NASH WAS ON THE PK, AND WAS A HIGHLY DISRUPTIVE FORCE!! IT WOULD HAVE BEEN A GOOD IDEA TO PLAY HIM AT THE END OF THE SECOND PERIOD WHEN THE DOGGONE GAME WAS STILL TIED!!
Ah. I feel better now.
4. Brett Lebda - Played his first game as a Columbus Blue Jacket. He didn't look too bad, and with a little time to get acclimated, he may be a real asset. The veteran presence will not hurt our young blue line at all. He might not have been good enough to make Nashville's defense, but we are talking about the CBJ here. He might end up being one of our better defensemen. Funnier things have happened.
5. Nashville takes the series - 5-0-1, Nashville wins the 2011-12 season. Two of the games, Nashville won fair and square, these last two. They beat us in the home opener in a tight game, to launch the death spiral. We won the big one in November, finally breaking the long losing streak. And in the other two, in classic Scott Arniel style, we skated their butts right off the ice, only to fold in the last 8 seconds at home, and lose in overtime, and then to fold after lighting them up on 5 minute major penalty (which has served to artificially inflate our power play totals ever since), and then folding to lose the game in Nashville. Scott Arniel was not on the ice for either of those debacles. But its his job to have the team be confident, and to manage the end of those games so we come out with a win. He did not do so, and those last second losses had to factor large into the decision to move on without him.
Our defense of our lottery pick remains strong. Tomorrow, Tampa Bay.