Sunday, March 10, 2013

DBJ's six-pack for Game 26: Detroit

Columbus 3 - Detroit 2 (Shootout)
10-12-4, 12th in Western Conference, 22nd in NHL
9th overall draft pick (plus 19th and 21st!)
Again wearing the wrong sweaters (this time the home blues for an away game), the Columbus Blue Jackets trekked up to Detroit and defeated the host Red Wings in a shootout at Joe Louis Arena.  It was the Blue Jackets' fifth straight win.

The season series with the Red Wings is over, and the Blue Jackets won it for the first time in their 12 seasons of NHL hockey.  Better yet, it was a 4-0-1 record.  Not even close.

As for the character of the game, it wasn't anything like the spectacle that yesterday's shutout win at Nationwide Arena provided.  No, it was a workmanlike road win, one where the CBJ had to outplay not just the other team but the home team-influenced refs, the crowd, etc.  It's just harder to win on the road, making the win all the sweeter for what it was.

A series win demands a full six-pack!

1. Keeping with personal tradition, the first beer goes to the goal scorers.  Let's stick to regulation on this one, so that means Derick Brassard and R.J. Umberger.  I've been down on both guys for pretty much all season, so it's nice to see them step up and contribute.  I can't help but think that these guys are turning it on right now on advice of their agents, for...

2. Beer number two goes to The Kids.  All of 'em.  Atkinson, Calvert, Johansen, goes on and on.  The CBJ coaching staff is playing them in every possible situation...and letting them go out and win.  Seems to be working...

3. Beer three goes to The Scouts.  And by that, I mean the internal scouts like John Davidson, Jarmo Kekäläinen and whomever else they are trusting at this point...the people that are trying to figure out what we have on this roster before the trade deadline hits on April 3rd.  There is no way that The Kids would get the exposure that they are without some mandate to the coaches from management to play them.  That tells me that while the five-game win streak and nearly-.500 record are nice, team leadership focus lies well beyond 2013.  It also suggests to me that the trade deadline could be an interesting one.

4. A somber beer goes to Jordan Tootoo, whom I heartily encourage to sip slowly while accompanied by Tracy Chapman music as he ponders how his once-feared reputation is now in tatters.  Awesome pickup, Ken Holland.  Just awesome. <golf clap>

5. Beer five goes to Team Defense.  Holding the Red Wings to only 23 shots?  On Joe Louis Arena ice?  Dang.  I know the Red Wings kinda aren't very good this season, but still...only 23 shots?

6. The final part of this six-pack goes to The Rivalry That Never Really Materialized.  Yup, with NHL realignment looking like a reality, the Blue Jackets and Red Wings will be in separate divisions and - if I get it correctly - will play each other just three times every season in the new scheduling matrix.  The NHL did everything they could to make Columbus-Detroit a hockey complement to the vitriol of Ohio State-Michigan, but they never could get over the hump of having one team (Detroit) out playing for Stanley Cups seemingly every season while the other (Columbus) was unable to find its way.  Now that we finally are seeing the worm turn, the intra-divisional component is lost.  Such is the price of progress.

WERE THE CBJ OUTWORKED?  No, no and no.  Next?

NEXT UP: Tuesday night against the Vancouver Canucks - 7PM puck drop at Nationwide Arena.  Can the Blue Jackets make it six in a row?  Is this real life?

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