Sunday, March 3, 2013

Morgan's six-pack for Game 22: Operation Colorado Avalanche

Columbus Blue Jackets 2 - Quebec Nordiques 1 - F/OT
Three game point streak and still in 30th place.

The Columbus Blue Jackets played host to the visiting Colorado Avalanche in a wonderful Sunday afternoon matinee at Nationwide Arena in front of 13,778 partisan fans.  I happened to be one of those 13778 folks cheering for the home crowd today.  There were a few Avalanche fans in the building, but they were few and far between.  The game was exciting and frustrating at the same time.  Exciting that the Jackets were in the game all 60 minutes and you had the feeling that at any minute they could score.  It was frustrating in that the Jackets lack of scoring touch really kept the team from putting away the Avalanche early.  The game had the feel of a mid-summer five hit National League baseball game that went 12 innings.  Tonight's game was certainly a game of bounces, both team's first goals were fluky in nature taking the game into overtime at one goal a piece.  But the Jackets ended the game with authority on Anisimov's beauty of a shot from the right circle.

Glug, Glug

For this recap, I will follow in the steps of the great Greg May and designate beers worthy of special accommodation to the players, coaches, or things earning them.

1.  Artem "MF" Anisimov, this Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout is for you.  That's right beer snobs, I brought out the big guns early.  Artem took a shot off the lower-body in the first period.  He dropped like a wounded dove, but tried to get up and skate off under his own power.  Aided by teammates, he left the ice and headed for the dressing room.  He would return to the game a little while later, and as we all know, score from his magical spot, the right circle, winning the game in OT.  #GallosStrong

2.  Todd Richards, this can ofSchaeffer's Light is for you.  Not sure why you put two of your top three goal scorers on the 3rd line tonight.  Sure, this win probably masks that, and Prospal did see some extra minutes with Anisimov going down, but still.  If they're scoring, put them out there often.  I know the team is down a couple centers, but still get your scorers out there a little more often.  And if you're going to put Letestu and Prospal together, give them a better finisher than Dorsett, pleeeeease.

3.  Ryan O'Reily, this Bud's for you.  Thanks for the 'own goal' buddy.  I'm glad you could sign your contract and make to this afternoon's game in time to tap one in for the CBJ.  The Avalanche certainly aren't the CBJ killers of old.  And a stick tap to Jay Feaster for not effing up this win for the CBJ either.

4.  Vincenzo Prospal - This Bell's Two-Hearted Ale is for you.  If anything else, you've shown us that good things happen when you put the puck on net and don't get cute with it.  The goal from the corner against Dallas and the redirection off of O'Reily's stick tonight are good examples.  If you can get the puck to the net, why the hell not.

5.  This tasty Sweet Water IPA is for the Blue Jackets Power Play.  I'm going to ignore the first 5-on-3 power play as it was brutal.  I have been harping on how this team needs to get better on the power play in order to start winning games.  The team has great heart, it does not have great hands, and the power play is crucial.  The Jackets found a way to score on the power play tonight and guess what?  The Jackets won.  This is a good start.  Keep it up.

6.  Jared Boll, here's a nice Iron City Beer for you.  Not specifically for your fight against Bordeleau, but for allowing me this talking point.  Bordeleau's hit on Nikitin was, on it's own, a clean hard hit.  However, it was not a necessary hit.  Hitting a guy shoulder to shoulder while he swings the net ends one way - with a guy going head first into the boards.  Fans were enraged that a penalty was not called on the hit.  The hit was a clean hit.  However, Bordeleau in that situation did not need to hit Nikitin the way he did.  There are situations in hockey were you expect to be hit.   Does that make Bordeleau's hit a dirty one?  No.  But there is a rule that just because you can blow a guy up, doesn't mean you have to - and this is one of those instances.  Boll came out and did exactly what needed to be done on the next shift - held Bordeleau accountable.

The Jackets skated hard all game, right out of the gate.  Golobeuf and Prout looked good tonight on defense.  The team's hard work showed on the fore check and the breakout, although entering the zone left a little to be desired.  The Jackets were not outworked this game.  I romanticize how this game would have gone with a legitimate scorer on the ice, but alas, the hard work did get the team a win.  Hockey Jobu allowed the Blue Jackets a 'happenstance' goal of their own after the Avs got themselves a wonky one in the second.  The Jackets hard work kept the game close.  Simeon Varlamov gets an honorable mention tonight.  You made tough saves look easy and kept the Avs close too.  But, you didn't miss a chance to act like a French Canadian goaltender and make the easy saves look tough.

Tonight's game had a gritty feel to it.  The Jackets were skating hard all game, but finally had some purpose after the Boll fight.  I like the home win, and I expected a CBJ win tonight.  Early in the first period, from my seats in 107, we watched Dorsett miss on two prime scoring chances.  One actually beat the goalie but the puck game off his stick funny and sailed across the crease.  I like Dorsett and his hard work gives him opportunities to score.  But the team needs to start finishing on it's chances.  The Blue Jackets hard work kept them in this game, and a well-earned lucky bounce gave the the opportunity to take the game into OT.  But they have GOT to find a way to bury those pucks.

The Jackets next game is at home against the youthful and defenseless Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night.  The Oilers have youth, speed, and scoring ability but they bring with them a men's league defensive corp.  If the Blue Jackets are going to be competitive in this contest, they have to exploit the weak back-end of the Oilers.  The Jackets are likely down another defencemen and they are now going to have to score consistently to pick up a couple of points Tuesday night.

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