Saturday, March 16, 2013

Morgan's Six Pack for Game 28: Phoenix Coyotes

Blue Jackets 1 - Feenicks Kaiyotees 0 -F/SO
11th in West
Ten.  That's the number of consecutive games in which the Columbus Blue Jackets recorded a point.  That, dear friends, is a considerable and by all accounts a respectable points streak.  But as I sit down to type this with my 75 calorie per cookie box of Samoa's, I feel a bunch of different emotions.  Elation, disappointment, fear, and hope - all at the same time - that's what a 0-0 game after 65 minutes will do to you.  Taking nothing away from Columbus' well earned victory, I enter the very unfamiliar territory (at least as a Blue Jackets fan) what this team must to do help it's surging goaltending, Sergei Bobrovsky.  The Blue Jackets cannot start playing playoff style hockey now as they will become bruised, battered, and beaten.  To be honest, it's not really playoff hockey, although it looks like it (cut out the mistakes with the puck and add a credible power play and you have playoff hockey).  Tonight's game had the feel of a National League pitcher's duel to it.  This one was weird because it felt like each team played the entire game with a runner on third.  Whether it was good pitching, solid defense, or the offense's inability to score goals, I mean hit, the game went into extra innings 0-0 with neither team able to bring home the runner from third.  But after the extra session, the Jackets wasted no time in the shootout making sure Bob earned his shutout.

Down, down, down.
Down into my belly.

1. My first beer goes to Mark Letestu.  That shootout goal was right out of a straight up neighborhood game of shinny.  Mike Smith played all-in anticipating a switch to the backhand and the moment he committed to protecting against it, you roofed a wicked toe drag over his glove on the short side.  Holy Cow, great goal.  And another beer for me that a guy making $650k has been a go-to guy in the shootout.

2.  The second beer of the night goes to Sergei Bobrovsky.  Fear of injury aside, I was especially impressed with your focus before the shootout.  I liked it.  In acting, actors will often create what is called a "home space"  near or around the set.  This is a non-descript, but specific spot on set where the actor will go to emotionally and/or mentally prepare for a scene or show.  I saw you mentally prepare before the shootout, it was great.  I could almost see into your mind where you're imagining the shooters, seeing the puck, and getting in it's way.  Really, that's all goaltending is, blocking the puck's path into the net.  Wow man, far out.  Now, get some metal bones, stat.

3.  Vinny Prospal, get in a scrap with the opposing team's goalie and have a beer WITH me, please.  What an absolute great exchange between you and Smith.  Neither of you backing down, neither of you crossing the line.  I would love to know what you barked to Smith, I would love it.

4.  Brandon Dubinsky have a beer for making me pull my hair out.  I know you kinda got screwed into the ice on that shorthanded rush at the end of the second period, but PUT THE PUCK ON NET WHEN YOU HAVE THE PUCK ON YOUR STICK IN THE SLOT.  Please.

5.  This 5th beer is for RJ Umberger to entice him to score some goals.  I am tired of hearing the fan base moan and groan every time you do something with the puck that isn't scoring a goal or passing the puck to another person who scores a goal.  They don't see you deflect shots from the point or how you are seldom out of position.  The success on the PK would happen even if you weren't out the (that was sarcasm).  What they see is you not scoring, and their reaction is getting old.  Please, I know you're only 3rd on the team in goals, but score more so I don't have to listen to people whine and moan when you don't score a goal every time you touch the puck.

6.  This sixth beer is for a couple of feel good stories tonight.  First, DBJ comrade Gallos made his return to Nationwide arena tonight less than 6 weeks after having both of his knees replaced.  That my friends, is testicular fortitude.  #GallosStrong.  Also tonight, as I experienced the Blue Jackets games from the cozy confines of the CBJ Social Station, was twitter celebrity Bunktuzzi visiting Columbus this week from a little slice of heaven just east of Vancouver, BC.  Cheers to the both of you!

Were the Blue Jackets out worked, No.  Did the Jackets work hard enough to win this game in regulation?  No.  Playoffs or not, you can't keep giving away points to teams in front of you.  Point streak awesome, giving away points in the NHL's laughable 3 point game system- BAD.  I know, the Jackets are two points out of a playoff spot, but the CBJ are also 4 points from being 15th in the West.  The 10 game point streak has gotten this team into a position where it could be in contention for a playoff spot.  But the Jackets need to find a way where they aren't taxing their bodies with playoff style hockey every night and where they aren't relying on goaltending to be the difference maker EVERY night.  Next season you say? 

I look to next season with more uncertainty that this season.  I know the fan base says that there will be six or seven new faces on the team next year, assuming we will drop six or seven bad guys and replace them with 6 or 7 studs.  See the problem is, this team only has two guys that you could argue are dead weight.  After that, you're talking about cutting an entire defensive pair and one forward line from this team.  I think the draft will determine, more than anything else, what will happen with this roster, and if anything major happens at all between this season and next.  I would love to sit down with Jarmo and JD over a couple of pops and talk this out.  We can't have six or seven new faces on the team next year without dumping someone who is contributing every day right now.  So please fans, realize that in the middle of this 10 game point streak, there guys out there working hard and making a difference right now that won't be back if you expect 6 or 7 new faces - not to mention those 6 or 7 new faces will likely be bigger question marks than the one who got jettisoned.   

And fans, there were 14,321 of you there at Nationwide Arena, a passionate raucous 14,00 fans.  But there were 16,500 freezing their butts off at a Crew game a few miles up the road.  I expect the CBJ trolls to be gobbling up that stat and spreading it far and wide.  The Blue Jackets are on a hot streak and can only pull in 14,000 on a Saturday night?  Well, it was Phoenix they were playing, the team where Gary Bettman is their boss.  Yuck.  The fan base is strong and loyal - I've always said that, but we have a ways to grow in size.  Trolls gonna troll.

The Jackets next game is Tuesday, March 19th against the Nashville Predators here at Nationwide Arena.  The season is half over already and I am sad.  I love hockey season, I don't want it to end.


  1. Great point on the "gotta lose 6-7 players" matter. With the way this team is constructed, you'll be cutting bone much sooner than one would think.

    The question that sits in the back of my mind is, "Is this team worth keeping together?" You've partially answered it with the assertion that they're playing playoff-intensity hockey before 30 games are out of the way...implying that they have to totally maxx out just to get/stay in the "barely qualifying" mix.

    I'm thinking that, even moreso than Howson's brilliant determination that the 2008-09 playoff-qualifying club had to get leveled if the CBJ were ever going to make noise in the playoffs (leading to the escalator ride to the basement), this team is going to have a hard time getting anywhere if they actually do qualify for the playoffs.

    That said, we've clearly got a case where lightning is in a bottle. This team realizes what they have - and what they don't - and they've all bought into the notion that they have to play like a genuine team if they're going to be anything of substance. The last couple weeks have been one helluva ride, and I'm now conditioned to enjoy it for as long as it lasts...but that's more because you never know when/if it will happen again in Columbus.

    As for Umberger, it's Columbus. As long as I've been here, the fans have needed a player to hate on. Mason has been benched, Brassard is teflon, so Umberger gets the jeers. Maybe some sustained winning will purge that behavioral quirk from the fan base. (That said, I'm no Umberger fan, either.)


  2. I'm with you on most of your points. My question is which 2 players are considered "dead weight"? I'm sure I know what you're response would be, but curious to see your point of view.

  3. Dead weight?

    Aucoin and Wiz (being on IR could be considered the definition of dead weight)


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