Sunday, March 24, 2013

DBJ's six-pack for Game 32: Nashville

Nashville 5 - Columbus 2
13-13-6, 11th in the Western Conference
11th overall draft pick (and 14 & 21!)
The Columbus Blue Jackets rode into Nashville with their 12-game "no regulation loss" streak on the line and...ran into a buzzsaw against the host Predators, falling 5-2 in regulation at Bridgestone Arena.

This is perhaps the key moment of this season for the Blue Jackets.  Whether they come back - and by that I mean roar back to a position of stifling defense, strong goaltending and just enough offense - will have repercussions far beyond April's playoff seedings.

We just saw a pivot game of sorts, one where the dynamic of the streak was tossed on it's ear.  The question is whether the Blue Jackets can pivot back.  I'm dubious.  They have a dozen of their last 16 games on the road, and those road games aren't all played in Calgary.  There are tough teams laying in wait for a Columbus team that wins only when most everything goes right.

I could be proven wrong (something that's happened many times before), but I just don't see it happening.  Not after getting shellacked by a relatively weak Nashville team.  If I'm CBJ general manager Jarmo Kekäläinen, I'm preparing for the greatest of all tank battles if things don't look up after Tuesday's game in Vancouver.  For this is a season where doing nothing at the trade deadline is perhaps the worst alternative for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

So these were sitting on the
radiator all night long...

1. Beer number one goes to the fine folks at Sports Illustrated.  The Chicago Blackhawks had a 24-game "no regulation loss" streak, and they made SI's cover and were credited with bringing hockey back from the brink. God bless SI hyperbole.

Because nothing else mattered than
the Chicago Blackhawks

The Blue Jackets were halfway toward the SI editors making some real awkward decisions.

2. Beer number two goes to the timekeepers and scorekeepers.  Last night, the Blue Jackets score three goals in under a minute and a half to obliterate the Calgary Flames.  Tonight, the Predators score three in two and a half minutes to obliterate the Blue Jackets.  That's a lot of movin' and groovin' by those guys to keep up with all the scoring.

Sure, the CBJ blast came in the second and the Preds' came in the third - which meant that the Blue Jackets had more time to attempt a comeback.  But we have to remember, this is the Nashville Predators that we're talking about.  This is the team that Columbus has become over the streak.  You know, stifling defense, good goaltending, grinding offense?  Yeah.  And they still do the defense part better than the CBJ does.

So, up 4-1 after 1, what does Nashville do?  Shut the game down.  Thanks for coming, Columbus.  The bars stay open late on weekends.

3. Beer three goes to Steve Mason, who stopped all 11 shots that he faced tonight.  That's right, 11 shots in two and a half periods.  Tell me Nashville didn't shut it all down.  Which brings me to...

4. A very sad beer four goes to Sergei Bobrovsky, who stopped all but four of the 11 shots that he faced tonight before getting run.  Somehow, I think his "NHL Three Stars of the Week" streak also ended in Nashville.  I join the Blue Jackets community of fans in praying that this was just an off night and not a return to the level of play on display before the streak started. But again, I also blame the defense, which brings me to...

5. Beer five goes to Jack Johnson for giving us the CBJ picture of the night, sitting on his rear and watching Borovsky scramble to miss the shot of David Legwand.


Blergh.  His was not the only pathetic defensive play.  It was just the most photo-worthy.

6. Beer six gets shared by R.J. Umberger and Artem Anisimov, both of whom scored goals tonight.  The team didn't give up; they just didn't have anything close to what it took to win.

WERE THE BLUE JACKETS OUTWORKED TONIGHT?  The comeback-attempting effort of the second and third periods didn't come close to the first period blitz from Nashville.  Thus, I'll offer a hearty YES.

NEXT UP: Tuesday late night (10PM EDT) in Vancouver.  Tonight was a must-win to keep the playoff momentum going and perhaps to get a little separation between the CBJ and the pack.  Tuesday probably is a must-win to keep the roster together.

3 comments:

  1. While I don't think this is apocalyptic, the next 2-3 games will determine how important this really was. If the Jackets come out and play their hockey after this, it was just an off night, which happens. But if it breaks their confidence, an off night can become much more devastating. I think they'll be resilient. But this certainly was a reality check in terms of the playoffs. The Jackets have to be pretty much perfect every night.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Tom, I agree with you this was the season changer. That's exactly what I said at jacketspeanutgallery. I was writing as the game progressed, and I could just feel the air going out of the balloon.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Am I the only one who thinks it may have been better for Mason to START this game? We were told before the preds game in Cbus that BOB was showing signs of fatigue.Streak not withstanding, thats why there are 2 minders. I'm not armchair quarterbacking, because, "you always respect the streak", I guess what I'm asking is, is there REALLY that little confidence in Mason stepping in for a back- to- back? After the last three weeks or so, I'm willing to give BOB the benefit of the doubt, but with no confidence in the back-up, it will NOT be a successful rest of the season.

    ReplyDelete