|Columbus 3 - Dallas 1|
23-17-7, 53 points, 9th in the Western Conference
The Blue Jackets went 5-1-0 on the road trip, which in itself is impressive. Even more impressive, however, is how the Blue Jackets are single-handedly keeping themselves in the Western Conference playoff chase while pretty much every single other game that needs to go Columbus' way isn't. Detroit capitalized on their game in hand and leapfrogged the Blue Jackets into 8th place (They since have jumped over Minnesota into 7th.). Absent help, the Blue Jackets have just kept winning.
Winning won't be enough, however, to make the step into the playoffs. They still need to win on Saturday against Nashville, but they'll also need:
- Detroit to lose in regulation on Saturday against Dallas, or
- Minnesota to lose their final two games - with at least one loss in regulation.
No small order.
|Six game roadies deserve|
their own six-pack, eh?
1. Brandon Dubinsky can have all the beer he wants tonight. In my mind, he was an absolute beast against Dallas. He took a whopping 26 faceoffs, winning 14 of them (54%). He had two assists, one of which in the third period after an intermission interview where he was clearly so gassed that I just felt bad for the guy. He hustled his rear end off all night long. Loved it. Loved it. Loved it.
|Best goaltender in the entire NHL?|
2. Sergei Bobrovsky gets another cold one after working up a sweat in stopping 31 of 32 shots. The .969 save percentage is terrific, but the reason he's high up on my list is the extended periods of play where the Blue Jackets simply could muster nothing. Most notable was the back half of the second period, where the Blue Jackets were seemingly stuck in mud and allowed the Stars to take a power play-ish posture against an even strength CBJ. Bob just got pummeled...but he stopped everything he saw in that sequence and kept his team alive when they weren't playing like they deserved it.
Also, it's worth mentioning that the hockey intelligentsia is coalescing around the notion of Bob for the Vezina Trophy for best goaltender. By that, I mean not just a nomination but an outright win. That's pretty darned cool. Hope it comes to pass.
|It's hard not to like a kid|
that hustles like Cam Atkinson
3. Cam Atkinson netted two goals tonight. The little man is a gamer. He's a genuine shooter/scorer, something I dont' think this team has had since (<ducks>) Nikita Filatov. It's nice to have one or two of those types on the roster. Goals are good. Goals get players DBJ beer, so here's one for Cam.
Atkinson also is a Boston College alum (I, a Notre Dame alum, won't hold that against him - It's a Holy Cross-Jesuit thing). I tell you his educational affiliation to share that BC is one impressive hockey program...and they got there by emphasizing the tournaments at the end of the season. Trophy Season, they call it. The kids are groomed to accumulate trophies. Conference tournament trophies, NCAA trophies...matters not. They just want the trophies and the big wins that come with the hardware.
Atkinson appears to have Trophy Season in his DNA. The season's on the line, and who scores 19 seconds into the game and then deep into the third period to put it away? Yup, our boy Cam.
I wonder how the whole Trophy Season thing would transfer into the Stanley Cup Playoffs? Hmmmmmm...
4. Mark Letestu got the go-ahead goal in the first half of the third period with a very nice shot from the power play point. The CBJ's all-purpose forward gets a beer for his effort:
He's probably netted a goal from the point earlier this season, but it strikes me as a new part of his repertoire. Usually he's getting the greasy, sloppy rebound goals. This one was a bit of a blast. Matters not in the end - Letestu is the CBJ's leading goal scorer.
5. We've hit a saturation point and I can't help myself, so I'm going to pour a warm beer over the head of every person involved in the creation, dissemination of, promotion of or embrace of the moronic term, "Lumbus". I acknowledge that Columbus fans have an unhealthy craving of national acceptance as a legitimate NHL market, but here's a hint: It won't happen until the team consistently wins over a few years. Until then, the attention that Columbus and the Blue Jackets get will more resemble that of pity, condescension and scorn.
Still, there's the Lumbus thing. It's dumb. And honestly, every time I see some mouth breather put that out over the Interwebs, all I can think of these days is this:
Yeah, you're pretty much pulling an "O-Face" when you use that. It's just as juvenile.
6. The other very warm beer goes to Barry Trotz, who sat both phenom Philip Forsberg and 2012 Vezina nominee Pekka Rinne as he watched his team get smoked by the Detroit Red Wings, 5-2, at Joe Louis Arena. I appreciate the "Sucking for Seth (Jones)" thing, I really do, but I thought that Nashville would want to leave Detroit a more fitting parting Eastern Conference sendoff gift after all the years of hell that the Wings have put the Preds through.
You know, like helping end Detroit's 21-year (and counting) streak of consecutive playoff appearances.
WERE THE BLUE JACKETS OUTWORKED? On balance, no. The second period was tough to swallow, but the team opened strong and ended stronger.
NEXT UP: The regular season wraps up on Saturday night at Nationwide Arena as the Blue Jackets will attempt to give the Nashville Predators the same painful parting gift that the Preds chose not to offer to the Red Wings tonight. It's Fan Appreciation Night (shouldn't every night be?), which includes the very cool "Shirts off our backs" ceremony at the end of the game. Tickets won't be cheap for this one.
As circumstance would have it, this will be my last six-pack for the regular season. Gallos, Morgan and I have been on a (more or less) rotation, and I think Morgan's up next so he gets to either spread the Stanley Cup Playoff joy or offer the spoonfuls of bitter Moral Victory Elixir.
It's been a crazy run this year, what with my expanded young family, the condensed NHL schedule and the short season thanks to the NHL Lockout. I'm eternally grateful to Gallos and Morgan for their contributions - and also thank Greg and Alison for pitching in for old time's sake while I was out of town. What can I say? I know some very, very good people.
Anyway, I hope to be writing six-packs into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but one can never take anything like that for granted...so I wanted to get that thank you in. Also, thank you to you, the readers, for your time, attention and feedback. It's been fun.