|Columbus 2 - Calgary 1 (SO)|
23-42-7, 5th in Central Division, 10 pts. out of 29th in the NHL
1. THAT'S WHAT THE STRING IS FOR - I'm going to postpone my now-regular excoriation of the CBJ for putting Rick Nash on the ice to (Gasp!) compliment the franchise for using this "playing out the string" game to let young players play...and learn to win...at the NHL level. Ryan Johansen getting minutes in 4-on-4 overtime play. Steve Mason gutting out a win in goal. And - appreciating that it took getting to a fourth shootout round for this to happen - Cam Atkinson's awesome shootout goal to win the game:
|Why does the NHL not put shootout goals on its game highlight clips?|
Oh well, I think this still photo does Cam's goal justice.
1a. BUT RICK NASH DID PLAY TONIGHT - The mutinous captain didn't get hurt, but he did not play like a man whose mind was entirely in the game. Which, considering he won't be around next season, is entirely counterproductive toward achieving the goals mentioned above.
1b. AND SCOTT HOWSON IS STILL EMPLOYED - An equal opportunity mention, if you will. As baffling as the preceding sub-thought.
2. LOOK HONEY, NEW GOONS! - We NHL fans could rely on a few things come hell or high water: 1) Canucks players dive, 2) Toronto feels entitled to something far beyond their team's capacity to deliver and 3) St. Louis would goon it up as soon as anything didn't go their way. And while items 1 and 2 are going strong, one of the saddest things to come out of the 2011-12 NHL season is the elimination of "goon" culture from the St. Louis Blues roster by new coach Ken Hitchcock. But fear not, NHL Fan, for the Calgary Flames have arrived on the scene to fill the role admirably:
Good golly! Those guys didn't meet a cheap shot that couldn't be taken. From Jokinen's "not stopping" on Steve Mason that knocked him silly for a couple of minutes to Iginla's retaliatory shot at Jared Boll (who, to be fair, had it coming after elbowing Alex Tanguay to the head) to Curtis Glencross' crosscheck to Derek Dorsett's face, these Flames were out for blood. Which is odd, really, as they are only two points of out playoff seeding and should have played cooler than they did.
Oh well, their loss. Literally.
2a. BY THE WAY - Hitch's Blues currently have 100 points and clinched the first playoff spot in the entire NHL this weekend. And my brain exploded.
3. YO MONEY, IT'S GOTTA BE THE PADS - Steve Mason came on in relief of an injured Curtis Sanford and gave over 50 minutes of really, really good goaltending on no meaningful rest after a long night in Vancouver yesterday. Is it just the new pads, or are we seeing the Mase we once knew come back to life?
At this point, who cares?
4. SWEET REDEMPTION - Nikita Nikitin had a game for the ages last night, and not in a good way. Not at all. In fact, I'd say the Vancouver game was his worst game as a Blue Jacket.
But that's why they play 82 games...so players can go from being the goat to being the hero. Nikitin dropped in the only regulation goal of the night for the CBJ: