Wednesday, March 21, 2012

DBJ's 5 Thoughts on Game 73: Chicago

Chicago 5 - Columbus 1
23-43-7, 5th in Central Division, 13 pts. out of 29th in NHL
The host Columbus Blue Jackets lost last night to the visiting Chicago Blackhawks, 5-1 in regulation, in a game that actually wasn't as close as the score would indicate.  In the process, the Blackhawks swept the season series with the CBJ, 6 games to nil.

Nine games left.

1. NASH WAS ON THE ICE - Defying competitive logic, the CBJ chose to once again put mutinous captain Rick Nash on the active roster for the game.  His presence in the locker room, combined with his 15:15 of ice time, further forestalled the inevitable rebuild that is facing the team as a result of this disastrous season.

1a. NASH DIDN'T GET HURT - As best we know, Nash's trade value to the Blue Jackets was not diminished by his play last night.  So the Blue Jackets once again dodged a bullet.

It's worth noting that Nash left the ice with about two minutes left in the 1st period and went back to the locker room after a rough collision.  It ended up only being a broken skate, but this particular Columbus Blue Jackets fan almost saw his biggest fear realized.  And it would totally be Blue Jackets karma - the only value that Nash has to the team at this point is his trade value, and an injury would leave the team with few options...even fewer of them being good ones.

Please, CBJ, don't hurt him.

1b. HOWSON IS STILL EMPLOYED - For that matter, general manager Scott Howson continues to be employed by the Blue Jackets.  Not sure why, but he is.

2. THE GAME WAS OVER IN UNDER EIGHT AND A HALF MINUTES - When Brent Seabrook scored Chicago's third goal of the first period, the fat lady belted out a beautiful hymn.  And Chicago largely locked the game down.  That's right, a team played prevent defense for almost 52 minutes of game time and, in the process, scored more goals (2) than the supposedly desperate Blue Jackets (1).

Nothing to me is more infuriating than seeing another team lock down and get away with it.  I suppose it's good sportsmanship on Chicago's part - why run up the score if you don't need to - but, for my team, it's an indictment of the CBJ's beyond-anemic offense.

3. THE SHUTOUT WAS AVOIDED - Rick Nash redirected a Jack Johnson shot from the point to get the Blue Jackets on the board in the 3rd period, turning a potentially humiliating loss into something that's only deeply, deeply embarrassing:


4. CLARITY - The recent Todd Richards-coached run that included a nifty four-game winning streak and the shootout winner in Calgary made me take pause and consider that perhaps this team had some hope.  You know, a nice draft pick, a couple trades and a return to normality on the injury front...and this team was ready to roll.  

Last night's game dispelled any such notions.  I appreciate that this is a patchwork team - someone in the Twitterverse called it a "pickup team" - but the "core" is pretty much still intact, at least on the forward lines.  They should have been able to mount something of a counter-attack and didn't.  And they can't get it done with any consistency or reliability.  This is a team with deep, deep problems in the way it was constructed...and the way it plays night in and night out.

Here's what I'd do.

5. A GOOD SIGN THAT YOUR TEAM IS IN THE NHL SUB-BASEMENT - I appreciate that he's rolled up the points against the Blue Jackets this season, but who the heck is Viktor Stalberg?  Oh yeah, he's the cheap ($875,000 cap hit) roster space filler signed in a desperation move to keep the Kanes, Toews, Keiths, etc. around in Chicago.  And yeah, we can't stop him.  

NEXT UP: Friday night, 7PM, Carolina Hurricanes at Nationwide Arena.  The 'canes likely won't make the playoffs this season, but they're playing some pretty good hockey of late (5-3-2 in last 10, 3-game winning streak) under new head coach Kirk Muller.  

2 comments:

  1. DBJ, I'd like to help you out by adding this 6th bullet point:

    6. The CBJ are just absolutely terrible. And they don't understand how terrible they actually are.

    I was at the game last night, and it was a joke. I brought a few work buddies with me, they've been coming with me to a few games this year as I've been trying to get them to Carry the Flag. For the most part, we've had fun at the games (they even saw a few wins) but I think last night might have stomped on the throat of their burgeoning CBJ fandom.

    The game on the ice was terrible; other than the Prospal-Letestu-Atkinson line (maybe) the offensive game was a disaster. Nash looks so disinterested you could put a traffic cone out there and it'd be an improvement on Brassard's wing. No defense, and worse yet, no apparent semblance of a defensive plan (I know there were AHL call-ups, but aren't these guys all supposed to be pros?) By the second period, it looked like Patrick Kane was just trying to stick handle through as many Jackets as he could to prove a point.

    To top it off, my friend was looking through the game program and was absolutely floored that the bio for Scott Arniel was still included, that a picture of Jeff Carter was still part of the roster, and that there was no byline for Atkinson on the game day roster. Apparently, the PR department also took the year off.

    I think my friend summed it up perfectly when he said "I'm from Cleveland, and this is by far the worst franchise I've ever seen in my life, from top to bottom." What a disgrace.

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  2. If this franchise manages to retain a season ticket fan base of greater than 4000-5000, I will be absolutely floored. Anyone else wonder if we are watching a real-life re-enactment of Major League?

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