Tuesday, February 5, 2013

DBJ's six-pack for Game 10: Los Angeles

Los Angeles 4 - Columbus 2
5th in Central Division, 14th in Western Conference
Attendance: 11,019
With two days off since their impressive win over Detroit to open their six-game home stand, the Columbus Blue Jackets played 20 minutes of inspired hockey, called it a night (punctuated by being outshot 17-2 in the second period) and lost to the visiting Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings, 4-2 at Nationwide Arena.

This six-pack, slightly skunked after sitting on the radiator since the Detroit win, will be spread in all sorts of directions tonight.  That's in part because I was at the game and thus have a little more to work with than a traditional "DBJ on the couch" game...but also because the game - from a Columbus perspective - ground to a halt in the second period.

1. Gotta give the first one to my friend - you know, the one who had a quasi- run-in with Jeff Carter and then a spirited conversation in the elevator with Jarrett Stoll in the Hilton last night.  If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you're clearly not following the DBJ Facebook page (and shame on you).  Anyhoo, there is no better way to kick off the L.A. game in spirit if not in fact than by locals yukking it up with the opposing team.

2. The second cold one goes to Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Central Ohio, who lent the Blue Jackets four players for the team's blue line: David Savard, Tim Erixson, Nick Holden and Cody Goloubef.  Yes, it was Take The Kids to Work Day for the two non-injured defensemen, Jack Johnson and Fedor Tyutin.  And you know what?  The kids did...OK...considering they were facing a team with vastly superior offensive firepower than the Blue Jackets.  Savard was the only one of the four with a negative (-2) plus/minus, Holden and Goloubef were even and Erixson was a +1!.  And while none of them came close to Johnson's "Just another day at the office" 34:13 TOI, only Holden (8:49) had less than 14 minutes on the ice.

What may be interesting as the regulars return (I gather Nikita Nikitin will be back for Thursday's game) is which of the blue liners get sent back down.  Erixson set up the Brassard goal and logged over 16 minutes...do you really send him back to Springfield instead of Savard?  And Goloubef, with 15:37 on the ice, at least had the stones to take a shot.  Personally, I'd send Holden back first, then flip a coin between Savard and Goloubef...and keep Erixson in town (unless logging game minutes for him is a priority, whereby it makes sense to get him back into the Falcons' lineup ASAP).

3. The IGS blimp gets one, having had, well, a no-good, very bad day:

I thought I'd never get to use this graphic again.  Silly me.
It crashed again.  Oh, the humanity.

4. Jeff Carter, you get the warmest one I can offer.  For your presence made the evening oh-so-memorable.  Every time you touched the puck, the boos rained down (as much as they can rain from a half-filled arena).  Every time you got booted from the faceoff circle - and you're good at that, I see - you elicited some of the largest cheers of the night.  
And yes, you had to remind us what an offensive talent you are.  You only registered two shots but were seemingly effortless in how you flicked your wrists to make the puck fly at the net (unlike the "one potato - two potato" reaction time of the Blue Jackets tonight)...and you even worked in a nifty bank shot off Fedor Tyutin's skate to get your power play goal:


Sigh.

5. Let's toss one to the guys who economize movement on the ice - Jack Johnson and R.J. Umberger.  From this vantage point, they do it for two very different reasons.  Johnson lays off the hard skating because he knows that he'll be expected to play over half the game.  He's not the most dynamic defenseman - and those who understand advanced stats better than I (which is pretty much anyone who understands advanced stats) can tell you a million reasons why Johnson isn't very good - but he's a rock.  He just hangs in there and hangs in there.  Right now, that type of guy is good to have.

In contrast, Umberger just coasts way too much, driving at least this fan batty.  Maybe we can turn this negative into a positive, however.  If our blue line is a M*A*S*H unit and Umberger is sailing around like a defensive center fielder anyway, why not put him on defense until the other guys get healthy?  It's not like Umberger is scoring or anything.

Besides, if Ken Hitchcock can put Sergei Fedorov on defense when the team is in a pinch, why can't Todd Richards do the same with Umberger?

6. I can't let the opportunity pass to reward Rick Nash with a lukewarm one for his incredible puck handling, displayed in high definition on the Nationwide Arena Jumbotron That Ate Cleveland (and made my intermission - the goal starts at 0:12):


As it stands, the Rangers are in the seventh slot for the NHL draft - and the Blue Jackets acquired the Rangers' first round pick when they moved Nash to Manhattan.  So keep it up, Rick, and thank you for the lovely parting gift.

OTHER STUFF OF NOTE:
  • Brandon Dubinsky could get in trouble for his hit on the Kings' Rob Scuderi. Not saying the hit wasn't bad, but how much of the onus is on Scuderi to keep his head up and be aware of his surroundings?
  • Mike Richards' instigator penalty included a bonus two-minute penalty for fighting with a visor on his helmet.   I so love the NHL.  The league is trying to promote player safety and, in part, the wearing of helmet visors.  So many players wear visors.  Then they get penalized for fighting with visors on their helmets.  How about this: Why not just ban fighting?  
  • Vinny Prospal - the Man Who Should Be CBJ Captain - took one in the mouth that broke the skin.  Hate to see a guy bleed on the ice.  
  • Steve Mason clearly didn't have the defensive support from the junior woodchucks that he was getting from the regular defensive corps, but he wasn't all that bad in my estimation.  I noted that he was doing a reasonable job defending the glove side, making more than one nice save with the glove.  Is he an all-star?  No way.  Is he better than he has been?  I'd say so, yes.
  • My brain exploded when Artem Anisimov dished off to Derek Dorsett in the third period, upon which Dorsett promptly took a lousy shot.  Why Anisimov is passing to Dorsett is beyond me.  A bad Anisimov shot probably is better than any Dorsett shot.  Beyond that, why Dorsett is on what appears to be the top line is beyond me.  Dorsett's presence in the scoring lines may not be the only reason that the Blue Jackets are not scoring enough, but it's surely a contributing factor.  
WERE THE BLUE JACKETS OUTWORKED?  1 period goes to the CBJ, 2 to Los Angeles.  Survey says...YES.

NEXT UP: Brian Burke never got his barn fight before getting the boot from Toronto, but the Blue Jackets get a Western Conference cellar fight in our barn on Thursday night against the 15th ranked team in the West, the Calgary Flames.  Of course, Columbus has played 10 games and piled up 7 standings points while the Flames have played 7 games and accumulated 6 points.  But we will overlook that and say that Calgary stinks anyway.  

4 comments:

  1. Ah yes, player safety. Why dont' we take tackling out of football? Fighting out of Boxing? Crashes out of Auto Racing? Cigarettes out of society? Like concussions, this is not a decision for fans or the media, but the league and it's participants. In a sport where players carry a weapon, where their face can be thrown into the half boards, or a player can purposely end someone's career by sticking their knee out just a few extra inches, I hope that fighting as a tool of self-policing and accountability remains part of the game. Fights simply for the sake of fighting have no place in hockey. "Hey, I'm bored. Wanna Go?"

    PS - I'd double shift Dorsett at this point. Hands of stone or not, he's banging bodies and busting butt out there. Fedor Tyutin leads the team in points. Let that simmer...

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    1. No problem with your stand on fighting. It largely is the same as mine. My point is, to encourage visor usage then toss on additional penalties for fighting while wearing a visor is curious at best, hypocritical at worst in a league where fighting is sanctioned (and marketed). Perhaps I could have been better-stated there.

      Double-shifting Dorsett is fine. As long as neither of those shifts is with a line that's expected to score goals.

      And, strangely, I don't hate on Fedor Tyutin. Probably stems from the fact that he was once my CBJ Most Valuable Player.

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    2. So I don't come off as out of my mind, I suppose I should add that I would be perfectly happy with a "no fighting" NHL. The Vancouver Olympics - which was totally (?) devoid of fighting yet chock-full of NHL players - proved to me that the sport doesn't need pugilism.

      If the league has to have fighting, though, I agree that it should largely be of the type that would be penalized under the instigator rule and not of the circus sideshow variety that we get all too often. At least there's purpose in such fighting - on-ice policing.

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  2. I wasn't meaning that you were hating on Tyutin, only pointing out the fact that the perceived "3rd best" defensemen is leading the CBJ in scoring. This was to underline the absense of scoring that plague a team which is dead last in Goals Per Game.

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