|Totally awesome cartoon by Nate Beeler in today's|
Columbus Dispatch kinda says it all!
Having watched the CBJ squander many an opportunity to engage the local casual fan in past years, it is really refreshing to see how this team has established a home ice advantage down at Nationwide arena. In the past we have often seen the CBJ lose in these important home stands, or fail to show up when the big crowd is on hand. This is a credit to the hydra like leadership of the team, and the will of the players who seem to keep on chugging no matter the situation. There's also that thing about a hot goal tender, as evidenced by Sergei Bobrovsky being named the third star of the month of March by the NHL.
But where do we go from here? The Blues have a couple of games in hand, and they have loaded up at the deadline by picking up Bouwmeester from Calgary. They are in 'full on win now' mode. We are probably going to have to pick someone else to leap frog to stay in play off contention. Nashville has games in hand, but also has to play Chicago four times down the stretch. Detroit has seven of their remaining 12 games on the road. The CBJ are in a similar situation, with only 4 home games remaining, and 8 on the road. For the CBJ to make the playoffs, it will be a tall order, and they will have to do it on the road.
So for me, in my opinion, our CBJ are going to fade late, and are unlikely to make the playoffs. Which means of course that we get a shot at the lottery for the number one pick, which is pretty cool. This does nothing to diminish the pride and satisfaction that I have for what this team has accomplished. And, of course, based on what they have accomplished so far, maybe it is unwise to count them out. Some of these western conference teams had better focus on putting the CBJ away soon, because if you let them hang around, there is no telling what this group can accomplish.
As of Thursday, our next game, the level of intensity of play is going to take a quantum leap as the post trade deadline period begins. At the bottom of the incredibly tight western conference, this signifies the start of playoff mode. The CBJ have to match or exceed that elevation in the level of play. Honestly, I think they have that in them, if they can find a way to do it. These few days off come at a good time. I think our defense is going to need to elevate itself, the power play needs to get on track, and the forwards will be bolstered by the eventual return of Dubinsky and Foligno. And of course the goal tending, both Bobrovsky and Mason will need to remain white hot. It can be done.
So as this final phase of the 2012-13 season comes to a close, I am going to sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride, while taking every opportunity to cheer the CBJ for what they have done. Because I am having my cake, and eating it two!