|Columbus Blue Jackets 2 - Ducks de Anaheim 1 - F/OT|
8th Place in the Western Conference**
Anaheim ignores the rules. Well one rule in particular - You know, that rule, "i before e, except after c." Well, Anaheim is a proper noun, so I guess it gets a pass. But what about ancient Anaheim? Anyways, that's always bugged me, kind of like excuses. So before and during tonight's Blue Jackets game at Nationwide Arena versus the 51 point having Anaheim Ducks, I had to endure talk (whining, really) of the Jacket's travel schedule. Then, on this day of religious significance, I had to endure more talk (whining, really) of the hockey gods. I am an Atheist. Well, a hockey Atheist anyways. I refuse to believe in an ancient Greek or Roman-like group of deities creating hockey to torment humanity solely for their amusement. I don't imagine the 1976 Canadiens or the 1980 Islanders fans as a collective whined about hockey gods, but I can be sarcastic at times. Chance favors the prepared athlete, the rest is left up to the law of physics, individual skill, and team play. Anyways...
Like NASCAR, the Blue Jackets now find themselves in a playoff spot with 12 laps to go. The Jackets are giving up 2 or 3 game in hand to the three teams nipping at their heels, so I'm not going to hold my breath. The Blue Jackets have already taken their proverbial last pit stop and have to try and finish the race on barely enough fuel and slick tires. Face-palming my NASCAR metaphor? It replaced a "Battle of Stalingrad" metaphor I had originally written, but shelved for another post. Stay in school kids.
|Happy Easter, the Ducks laid an egg!|
I don't really have a good structured six-pack for tonight. My thoughts are lingering on what to make of this team the last 12 games. A lot of what I saw from the team tonight and what I witnessed in social media tonight will likely cause a couple posts that I've had in "draft status" to actually become published. But I'll give credit where credit is due with a couple of easter eggs stuffed with some Cashe, because that's what Easter is all about, isn't it?
1. Mark Letestu, as a member of my family on the DKM Hockey Oregon Trail Adventure, you are naturally at my CBJ Easter Egg hunt today. Like my mother-in-law would, I'm just going to tell you where I hid the egg stuffed with the $100 bill is. It's the egg on the hose bib.
2. RJ Umberget got mugged, here's an egg with a dollar in it. I'm going to say the tone for the game was set early on when Anisimov cross-checked Beauchemin across the collarbones a few minutes into the first. Hockey is a physical game and the Ducks are a big physical team. Don't poke the duck.
3. Vinny Prospal - here is a Cadbury Creme Egg. My CBJ Oregon Trail wife showed us the Hockey equivalent of the Schroedinger's Cat experiment would be a complete failure. You cannot, at the same time, exist in a state of "Skate until the Whistle" at the same time as "Celebrate like it went in." You proved both planes of reality cannot exist at the same time. The swirling lights, cannon booms, and AC/DC fueled calamity that ensues when both are tried at the same time is a World-Ending chaos we don't need to see again.
|I can't figure out the atomic mass of this mu**a f**king deuteron.|
The last two eggs go to Anisimov, Calvert, and Atkinson. The three of you looked good tonight. I don't have any delusions that you will become a 55 point per month line, but there's something their. I'll say Anisimov is what will make or break that line combo. Not that he's the best player on that line, but the puck movement after the face-off is what will define that line.
Were the Blue Jackets out worked? No. Were the Blue Jackets sloppy? Yes.
Looking ahead to the playoffs, cuz that's what everyone but the Blue Jackets are doing... The style of play the Blue Jackets have played during their 12 game point streak is the type of game EVERYONE plays in the Playoffs. Hot goal tenders and a well oiled power play get you playoff wins. The Blue Jackets existence outside of 30th place is solely due to Sergei MF Bobrovsky. In the Playoffs, when effort matches effort, skill in all three zones always wins - except after the 2nd OT, then the first mistake usually loses. A stat that jumps off the page at me is this, of the teams qualifying for the playoffs as of tonight, the Blue Jackets have ALLOWED the most goals and they have a goalie who's as hot as the center of the sun. All while 20 out of their last 23 games have been decided by a goal. The CBJ weren't getting blown out early in the season either.
All that stands in the way of a Blue Jackets playoff appearance is a ironically scripted end to the Blue Jackets last season in the Western Conference. The travel to and from the west coast is brutal and unfair to the Blue Jackets, so I've heard. A move to the East gets rid of something like 12 of those ugly 'later timezone' games over a 82 game season. But what the CBJ have left in front of them is 8 out of 12 on the road, all out West. The team is 4-10-2 on the road, where they have proven to be Vladomir and Estragon, I'm sorry kids, to be Jeckel and Hyde in their past 4 road games.
So, the end of this season will go one of two ways. 1. They will play on the road as the statistics suggest, and fade from playoff contention. It's bizzaro world indeed when dropping out of the playoffs picture in the closing days of the season is still encouragement to the fan base. I guess that's kind of like giving your kid $50 bucks for getting a C- on his report card because you're used to seeing Ds. Or, 2. The Jackets will show us that the 4-10-2 road record is just a fluke. They will out right win 8 of their last 12 AND all the teams with 2 and 3 games in hand will tank, proving as everyone suspected when Howson made all these moves, the team would make the playoffs. See what I did there?
The Blue Jackets play Thursday, April 4th in Nashville, Tennessee against the Predators. The next two games are must win games for the Blue Jackets if they don't want to depend on other teams losing to have a shot at Lord Stanley's Jello mold. The Jackets are ahead of the Predators by two points, but the Preds have a game in hand. Then, the very next night, the Blue Jackets play in St Louis. The Jackets have a one point advantage over the reeling Blues, but the Blue Notes have 3 games in hand over the Blue Jackets. The Jackets have largely played well against Central division opponents this season, so there is hope. But make no mistake, not winning both those games would be like blowing a tire with 10 laps to go in a NASCAR race. Your odds of winning are almost zero, unless there's a huge wreck behind you.