Saturday, April 13, 2013

DBJ's Six-Pack for Game 41: St. Louis

Columbus 4 - St. Louis 1
18-16-7, 4th in Central Division, 11th in Western Conference
11th draft pick (and 15th & 24th!)
Riding a season-best six-game winning streak, the mighty St. Louis Blues rode back into Columbus for the penultimate game of the 2013 Hitchcock-Davidson Cup series...and left with their tails between their legs after absorbing a 4-1 regulation loss at the hands of the host Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.

OK, I'll admit it.  I've grown so used to writing, "The team got spanked" leads that I had to flip the lead to the St. Louis point of view because, well, the Blues got spanked tonight.

And it was Team Yearbook night, too:

Who else would YOU put on the cover?
But enough of the memorabilia.  Let's crack open a few.  I was fortunate enough to be at this game, so my insights might veer a little from the TV and radio voices.  And my phone stinks, so my Twitter account largely lay dormant.  Thus, there was very little filter tonight...which makes for some interesting picks.


Crack a few open for the
Taste of Victory
1. Kevin Collins, grab yourself an O'Douls - a fine, alcohol-free beer devoid of empty calories and therefore appropo for the strength and conditioning coach.  Sure, the team didn't wear down tonight like the tired Blues did, but I'm not actually giving you the beer for whipping the boys into shape.  No, you're getting it for the toughness component of team play that we saw out there tonight.  The Blues tried their hardest to use their size and strength to bluster and intimidate the Blue Jackets all night long, but Columbus' boys stood toe to toe with them and never once dropped the gloves despite all the rugby scrums.  It was really neat to see.

2. The inventor of the crease gets a beer from me tonight, for the Blue Jackets effectively parked themselves in front of it on two of the goals tonight (Anisimov and Johansen's).  This isn't sharpshooting, sexy hockey.  This is rough and tumble, greasy rebound hockey.  But I'll suggest that it takes a little discipline to know where to be to drive that quick rebound home, and the coaching staff has put the guys in position to grab goals.

3. Derek Mackenzie was a flippin' sparkplug all night long. He shot off the bench like a cannon, was harassing the Blues puckhandlers to no end, jumped in to turn Jared Boll maybe-fights into kerfuffles, and never got an official shot on the board.  Still, Mackenzie's energy was palpable and contagious.  Really, really impressed with his motor tonight.  I'd give him a beer, but he already grabbed one for himself and shotgunned it before I could say anything.  He's just had that type of night.

4. The crowd (announced attendance of 17,007, which I'll guess was a tad high) gets a $9.00 tallboy for tonight's effort.  Once the Blue Jackets finally got rolling in the first period - read: after Bobrovsky gave up his requisite early goal - you could hear some fantastic crowd enthusiasm building on the AEP Power Level.  From the Arch City Army constantly reminding Blues netminder Jake Allen how inadequate he was, to the wierdo across the aisle from me who kept shouting "Jackets!" at random times like a Tourette's patient, to the sub-10 year old behind me who would hear something funny yet inappropriate and - not knowing what he heard - shouting "What he said!"....this game pretty much had it all.  Loud and proud, that's what we got tonight.

One small caveat: To the maroon who decided to start The Wave inside Nationwide Arena with 13:40 left in the game....no brew for you.  Nyet.  Just nyet.

5. I humbly offer an earnestly respectful beer to St. Louis' Barrett Jackman, who swooped in at the last possible second to deny R. J. Umberger a beautifully-executed wraparound goal on a terribly out of position (and, as the Arch City Army would have you know, inadequate) Jake Allen.  As Umberger was slamming it home, Jackman slid his stick in across easily three feet of open goal mouth to grab the puck and get it out of the crease.


Suffice to say, I consider it the best hockey play of the night.

6. Ryan Johansen gets a beer of his own, not for the goal but rather for the faceoffs he kept winning!  Six of nine in the circle, and a gaudy five of eight against Blues captain David Backes.  Then there's Derek Mackenzie at six for eleven, Mark Letestu with five of ten...all in all, a very solid night in the world of puck possession.

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What a fun game, perhaps the most fun I've had at a game since Jeff Carter dropped a hattie on San Jose just before skipping town for Los Angeles.

The Blue Jackets ended the evening stuck in 11th place, tied with 9th place Dallas and 10th place Phoenix at two points behind 8th place Detroit.  With just one home game left and a 3-3-1 road record since starting the March winning streak on the 3rd (I'm being charitable and not looking at the early season garbage games), I just don't see how the team can make up enough ground in six road games and the season closer at home.  The climb out of the NHL sub-basement has just been too steep, and the Blue Jackets aren't getting enough help from their rivals for that 8th playoff spot.

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WERE THE BLUE JACKETS OUTWORKED?  No, no, and no.  The Blue Jackets rose to the occasion in a big game against a good team in St. Louis.  Feels good to say something like that with a straight face.  I don't think that such a statement could have been made since...Ken Hitchcock was coaching the Blue Jackets.

NEXT UP: Saturday night, 8PM EDT in St. Paul against the Minnesota Wild.  These roadies aren't against the Calgarys of the world, folks; they're against some tough teams (and the Avalanche).  If the Blue Jackets make the playoffs through some act of God, it'll be because they earned it.

3 comments:

  1. What you said! And I would buy an extra frosty one for Matt Calvert who channeled his inner Derek Dorsett all night long. Loved seeing the little guy stand up for the littler guy. Now that I think about it, you should have made it easy on yourself and just sent a case down to the Jackets dressing room. It was a total team effort.

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  2. There are a lot of new faces on the team who have not heard what Nationwide Arena should sound like. Last night they heard that for the first time. For JD and Jarmo, that's what the barn sounded like all the time before the life got sucked out of it during the Arniel era. Imagine that taken to another level, and that's the playoffs. Welcome back Nationwide! We've missed you!

    We are talking crazy few games left. Strange things can happen.
    GO JACKETS!!

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  3. Some of my friends here in Vancouver are starting to figure out why I like the Blue Jackets. I mean check this out.

    How is this for a game?

    Keep it up!

    Joe in Vancouver

    Joe in Vancouver

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