|Columbus 3 - Detroit 4 (SO)|
3rd in Central Division, 5th in Western Conference
The Columbus Blue Jackets hosted the rival Detroit Red Wings in their 2012-2013 season home opener. Announced attendance at Nationwide Arena for the game was 19,206. The Jackets rallied back from a two goal deficit to tie the game at two goals a piece on goals from Atkinson and Wisniewski. The Jackets went on top in the 3rd from a well positioned Prospal power play goal. The lead was spoiled by, who else, Pavel Datsyuk who tied the game at three late in the third period. After a conservative overtime period, the teams headed for a shootout which, after further review, ended in a Red Wings victory.
1. It should be no surprise to anyone who watched this game that my first beer goes to none other than Sergei Bobrovsky. I'd give him the whole six-pack and go to bed if this wasn't my first write-up. Bob kept the game from getting out of hand in the first period when the Red Wings were afforded one scoring opportunity after another. 42 shots reached the net, the Jackets blocked another dozen or so in front of him. Bobrovsky continued to make key saves in the second and third period to keep the game close. It is easy to wonder how this game would have ended up if another goaltender was in net for the ol' CBJ, but Bobrovsky kept it simple and was the sole reason the Blue Jackets weren't down by two touchdowns after the first period.
2. The second beer goes to Ryan Johansen. Why? The kid was clutch on face-offs all night. He had won 9 out of his 11 draws at the start of the third period. Coach Richards used Johansen on key offensive zone face-offs late in the third period. This was a pleasant surprise and good on Johansen. It's not often you see a young kid getting tasked with key face-offs in close games against teams like the Red Wings.
3. Cam Atkinson, this one is for you. The Red Wings made a mistake, Johansen got you the puck, and you split the Red Wings defense for a doozy of a goal. It feels good that the Blue Jackets have a player who can capitalize on the opponents mistakes - something I feel the Blue Jackets haven't had for a while. Maybe ever...
4. I will take a liberty with this fourth beer, and give it to the Fans. I'll sprinkle it around as I was in attendance for tonight's game. With the Red Wings in town, there was absolutely no mistaking who was the home team. There was no 50/50 smattering of Red and White jerseys in the stands. There was no "let's go Red Wings" cheers to be heard in Nationwide Arena and only a few isolated cheers when the Wings did get on the board. This was a loud and proud Columbus Blue Jackets home game as it should have been.
5. I hate to do it, but Pavel Datsyuk gets a beer. Again he shows us why you don't give him time and space with the puck late in games. He got behind the defense late in the third and tied the game at 3. He quietly got 2 points and first star. Yuck. Dats Yuck, get it?.
6. CBJ Special Teams - The Blue Jackets played a simple, and for the most part fundamental, special teams strategy on both sides of the puck. The PK was a passive box that set up on the perimeter of the Red Zone. They let Detroit dangle the puck on the outside as long as they wanted and clogged access to the key scoring areas of the offensive zone, the "Red Zone." Detroit tried attacking this PK two different ways with no luck, Bobrovsky being the best penalty killer. The CBJ Power Play started a little wonky for my tastes with the point men criss-crossing at the blue line to pull aggressive Red Wings penalty killers out of position. It got back to meat-and-potatoes fundamentals by creating 3-on-2 opportunities on one half of the ice. Special teams looked good tonight. They have to continue to stay that way as the Power Play and Penalty Kill will be crucial to this team's success.
The question everybody wants to know: Did the Blue Jackets get outworked? Looking at the game as a whole, I say YES - but it wasn't for a lack of effort. Some might say they came back from being two goals down so how could they be outworked? Well, the Red Wings played the first period against the Blue Jackets like I imagined: send two guys at the puck on the fore check and have their way with the Jackets. The CBJ are a high energy team who aren't gifted with oodles of offensive skill. The Wings put two guys on the puck the entire first period forcing the Jackets to make quick 'thread the needle' passes which were never made or intercepted. However, the Jackets adjusted in the second period by quickly getting the puck into open areas and open forwards with shorter passes. As the Jackets adjusted, and got their two goals, the Wings resorted to slowing the play down and spreading out the ice. At no point in this game did it appear the Jackets were out of it, even down two goals. However, the Jackets were overwhelmed in the first 25-30 minutes of the game, and it's fair to say they dug themselves into the two goal hole (ha, rhyme) by being outworked. Bobrovsky kept this from getting much, much worse early on.
Despite the 1st period, the Jackets never gave up. I don't know how last year's team reacts to being down by two goals to the Red Wings, but I saw how this team reacted and I liked it. The Atkinson goal had a great level of satisfaction to it. Wisniewski's power play goal had blue-collar artistry to it. Prospal's goal is one that every youth hockey player should watch: it's always good to keep a third guy high. I saw enough tonight to keep on watching.
The Jackets next game is Wednesday night in Phoenix against the 0-2 Coyotes. The Coyotes still maintain a few ex-CBJ player with the likes of Antoine Vermette and Rusty Klesla. Whitney has moved on and Torres will be watching this one from the press box via his suspension. My money says we see Steve Mason in net for that game, but one can never tell.