Sorry for the delay in this post folks. I've been basking in the glow of the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. Before a spirited crowd of 17,612, the CBJ gave up their customary first goal, but answered on the power play, and then took control of the game. As we sat through the game, the commentary from our section went something like this: "Hmm, that first period might have been one of their best periods of the year", then "That second period was definitely their best period of the year, then BOOM!
Many a time over the years I have trudged out of Nationwide Arena surrounded by jubilant Red Wings fans, the home squad having succumbed to the powerful Red Wings. That makes it very, very sweet to leave the building as the victor, and the post game celebration contributed to my tardiness on this post. But I'm still basking in the glow, so this won't be a chore at all. And now for our six-pack.
|LTL is grinning today|
1. My first frosty cold beverage goes to Artem Anisimov. His two goals in the second period turned the game around. Artie was all over the ice tonight, playing defense, but when he got his chances in the offensive zone he made them count. Pulling up on the rush, he scored his first goal with a top shelf sharp angle shot from the side that knocked Jimmy Howard's water bottle off the top of the net. His second goal drew the obligatory 'now that's a goal scorer's goal' comment in our section, as he took a real nice feed from John Moore at the point, and walked in all alone on Howard. He went backhand to forehand on the sprawling Howard for his second goal. A big, big game from Artie.
2. My second cold one goes to Steve Mason. Mason looked sharp, and more importantly, assertive, all night long. His movements were quick, directed, and effective. His tendency to overplay the net has been shut down. I think that through his last few outings Mason has been gathering momentum towards an outing like this. Now he will need to sustain or improve that type of performance. I particularly liked the one time where the puck got away from everyone, and one of the Red Wings (I didn't catch the number) was obviously going to win the race to the puck. Mase charged out of the net with authority to get to the puck first, and shut the play down.
3. Ever notice how that third one seems to be really tasty? Well this one is for James Wisniewski, for getting up and skating off the ice with the help of his teammates. He got tangled in a mess of four players skating at top speed chasing the puck on a dump in, and crashed head first into the boards. The following few minutes were very quiet in Nationwide Arena as Wiz lay on the ice. The replay on the big board showed that he got turned enough to take the impact up high on his back in the shoulder blades region, but he'll be shut down for a bit with a possible concussion. It was just a hockey play, though I really thought he was going to ride off the ice on the backboard. It was really good to see him skate off. The other part of this cold one is that Wiz's slap shot goal turned the tide in the game. Scored late in the first period on the power play, it ensured a tie game at the end of the first period, and tilted the ice in the Blue Jackets favor. This one's for you Wiz! Get well soon!
4. Getting deeper into my six-pack now, and feeling good. This ones for Mark Letestu, for scoring a crucial short handed goal in the third period. He had a couple of opportunities short handed, which is always huge, but cashing in on this one was a great effort. Letestu sat out the first few games, but has been a big part of why our fourth line has been the best line on the ice many a night. He is making the most of his opportunities, and MacKenzie and Letestu make a really good penalty killing pair so far. With Detroit scoring with 27 seconds left in the third, that crucial 2 goal difference kept the Wings from thinking they could tie it up. This bud's for you Mark!
5. My fifth CBJ Brew goes to Jack 'Mother's Favorite' Johnson. JMFJ was a real Mother's Favorite tonight, logging a team record 34 minutes and 59 seconds of ice time. I think that Jack loves the big minutes, and that number 1 defenseman role. I'm sure he would have liked to have won a cup in LA, but I think he's happier here. He just wants the load, and he wasn't going to get that in LA. Jack also assisted on Anisimov's second goal. Well done Jack! Its miller time! (editor's note: Hey, this is a family blog, ok?)
6. My sixth, cold, savory beverage goes to none other than Brandon Dubinsky. While Dubinsky is still on the schneid for scoring his first goal as a Blue Jacket, he was all over the ice tonight, and I felt he played with a real edge to his game. He got an assist on the Letestu goal, and had some good opportunities. The goals will come eventually, but for the first time last night we really saw what they were looking at when they wanted him to come here. Well done Dubi! A very solid game!
Now we come to the big question. Was the team outworked? Most emphatically not! In the first say 15 minutes of the game, it was obvious that the boys had come out with a purpose, but you also had the Red Wings being the Red Wings. They have some pretty lethal players on that team. But once Wiz tied it with the slapper, the CBJ just started gaining momentum, working harder, and harder. I thought they played with a real edge last night. The play Wiz got hurt on was an example. They just sold out and went hard, no hesitancy, a four man race for the puck from the blue line on a dump in. The CBJ played like that all over the ice tonight.
JAM, welcome to the NHL. You are still adjusting to the game, the size and the speed. Jonathon Audy-Marchessault (JAM) drew a penalty and had a couple of opportunities near the net. It will come. It's a big deal playing those first few games in the NHL. How about that Brunner? The Red Wings rookie looks like he is going to develop into quite a player. Note to CBJ. Not a good idea to leave him alone in the slot after a face off.
Great game, great atmosphere at Nationwide, a big win, adds up to a real nice glow. Next up the CBJ actually get to have their first practice since the abbreviated training camp, then the LA Kings come to town.