|Steve Mason continues a string of strong hockey|
And now on to the 5 thoughts.
1, 1a, and 1b are hereby repeated. You know what DBJ thinks.
2. Not a star of the game, but I really liked Cam Atkinson's game last night. He brings a lot of speed and jump to the top line, and effort wise he pairs up well with Brassard and Umberger. One important measure of how good a player is depends on whether you make the players around you better. With Umberger and Brassard relieved of the 'making sure you feed the Captain the puck' duty, they seemed to thrive. Atkinson was all over the ice last night. Sure he gets out muscled with regularity. But it never deters him, and he never quits on a play. I'm gonna call him my Third Star of the game, though no one else did.
3. Hattie for Umby - Again, best game by far that Umberger has played this year. In large part due to the magic Brassard was working with the puck. Umberger just LEANED into the one-timer for his second goal. He just cranked it, hard! It was really good to see. And for his third, Brass just toyed with the defenseman before dishing to Umby. Very nice to see, very fun game to go to.
4. Jack Johnson - JMFJ was all over the ice. I remember on one play, he took the puck to the net in the O-zone, and the puck got turned around the other way. Johnson's mates had his back, so Carolina didn't get out on an odd man rush, but JMFJ was the second Blue Jacket back in front of our net, though when the play started up the ice, he was last. Dude can fly. I also just saw him knock a Hurricane player down in defensive coverage, where he just sorta shoved him aside, and took the puck. Not a big hit, just sort of a casual 'get out of my way, fly'. One thing I am looking forward to next year is a solid year of JMFJ and Wiz on that top pair, especially with Wiz healthy. That could cause other teams some real trouble.
5. Steve Mason - In spite of the bomb game against Chicago, which was a real team non-effort, Mason has put together a string of very CONSISTENT hockey games. That is a very important thing, and a huge building block. If you are anything like me, I expected instant miracles from Ian Clark on Mason's game. It has taken much longer than that, but Mason is playing a much steadier, settled brand of hockey. One play that exemplifies this, was a series of shots where he was down in the butterfly, and his first block rebounded out into the scrum at the right side of the net. Mason had lost track of the puck, and I felt by how he was looking around, that he really thought it had gone to the left side of the net. But not finding the puck, he stayed right where he was, and sure enough the Carolina player put the puck right back into his chest. I feel that earlier in the year, he would have scrambled to try to make a play that didn't exist, and moved out of position. Now he seems to understand that sometimes you just have to make the other guy miss you. This leads to a much more settled player in the crease, and is having some good effect on his play.
6. Vinning - Vinny Prospal got it all started with a really nice, all important, first goal. And of course, a great celebration. Interestingly enough, I thought the Prospal, Letestu, Nash line was good all night, even though Nash did not stand out much. Prospal and Letestu, as relative newcomers, seem like they don't subjugate their game to the Captain as much, which I think makes all three of them better players. I am pretty pleased with the acquisition of Letestu, and I think he brings a lot that I didn't really expect. Both top lines are playing better with the current mix, and I expect that Richards will leave it as is for the next game. It should be interesting to watch how these lines match up against Detroit next week. Letestu's goal at the end of the game was a beauty. I nice odd man rush, and Cam Ward had no chance. It's great to be playing Vinning hockey!
All in all it was a really fun night to get a new hat. Lot's of kids in the crowd, and they were treated to a real fun game.