|Columbus 3 - Nashville 2 (SO)|
1-0-0, T-1st in Central Division, T-1st in Eastern Conference
The past season or two has used the 5 Thoughts format as a means to organize our post-game thoughts here at DBJ, but - as you may remember - we've humbly adopted the "6-pack" motif of our retired colleague, Light The Lamp. So let's crack one open and see how it works.
1.94 GAA, .932 save percentage) before coming back to Columbus after the lockout ended - got the start over incumbent starter Steve Mason. After a stumble out of the gate with a first-minute gimme to Martin Erat (and to Bob's credit, the team defense never set up on the goal), Bob locked down and gave up only one more goal the entire game. 32 saves, 1.85 GAA, .941 save percentage...Give us a season like that and we'll be one happy bunch of campers in Columbus.
2. Especially as the game went on, Bob's performance was supported by our second of the six-pack, team defense. When things got hairy in the third period when things were tied and the Preds outshot the CBJ 12-6, the Blue Jackets finally figured out a way to collapse around their netminder and keep him from sitting out on an island. Not the sexiest form of team play, but I think it safe to say that keeping the puck out of your own goal is a more likely path to victory than throwing caution to the wind and, say, keeping only one man back (Oh, hi Scott Arniel).
3. Artem Anisimov announced his presence with a bang (Sorry, I had to) via a sweet goal on Pekka Rinne in regulation and another undressing of the 2012 Vezina Trophy (for NHL's best goaltender) nominee. Funny how Anisimov was treated like the throw-in with Brandon Dubinsky and Tim Erixson...and then makes himself worthy of one of the FOX Sports Ohio three stars right out of the gate. Hockey works in mysterious ways, my friends.
4. Gotta crack one open for the coach, Todd Richards. The poor guy had six whole days to get this team ready to play the Preds and with a simple game plan that emphasized protection of the goal above all, grabbed two standings points in Nashville. He's clearly still learning what his squad is all about - his post-game comments (starting at :53) suggest that he was throwing wet noodles at the wall with his picks for the shootout...which helps explain why Jack Johnson and James Wisniewski were given a crack at it - but hey, a win is a win is a win. And when you're the coach of a team that has a barrel-full of monkeys to get off its back, that's what matters.
5. Derrick Brassard nabs the game-winner in the shootout after a relatively quiet game. Hopefully that will be a confidence booster for a guy who seems to experience the peaks and valleys more acutely than most. Considering Brassard is the top-line center, a little confidence wouldn't hurt.
6. We'll close out the six pack with one for the Blue Jacket fans. Sure, a few went all "I haz a sad" and pouted over how they were never going to spend a dollar on the CBJ or the NHL again (only to be at the front of the line to celebrate when the lockout ended), but many - most? - kept a Churchillian stiff upper lip and waited...somewhat patiently...to see their team on the ice once again. How great is it to be rewarded with a win! I'm still deeply concerned about the precipitous drop-off in the season ticket holder base but cannot overlook my growing feeling that the hardcore base of fans might even be growing a little (EX: the packed Ice Haus for the prospects scrimmage over the summer and the opening of training camp) and cetainly are doubling down in their loyalty. This one's for you, CBJ Fan.
NEXT UP: Monday's home opener at Nationwide Arena sees the Detroit Red Wings coming to town. The Wings got thumped, 6-0, by Ken Hitchcock's St. Louis Blues in their opening night game, so I think we'll find out pretty quickly whether the boys from up north are for real or not.