|Columbus Blue Jackets 3 - Anaheim's NHL team - 4|
The Blue Jackets played host the Anaheim Mighty Ducks of Anaheim who are Ducks that are Mighty. Tonight's game offered a little bit of everything: a great first period, a "Blue Jackets of old" second period, a good hit called right, a good hit called wrong, plenty of bewildered fans bleating "Rule 614" and an overall feeling of watching this game through a "WTF just happend" haze. Nationwide arena was sprinkled with 10,524 adoring home fans who spent the final 2 periods playing the role of quasi emotional co-dependent. <snark alert> The Ducks came into town with an 8-3-0 record, clinging to glory years with some old dudes on their team. They should really start looking forward. <end snark>
The first period was one we hoped we would see from the Blue Jackets. Good tempo, go energy, and the Jackets looked the superior team. Blake Comeau gave the Jackets the lead on a Brett Hull-esqe "One-timer from the knee while going the other way" beauty from the area of the ice I call "the taint." Taint the high slot, taint the point. The puck had eyes, but I don't care. Johansen makes a beauty of a pass and Comeau buries it. The team was playing like we know they can play, and it's so awesome to see them play that way. But the game takes on an almost surreal feel to it at 14:33 of the first period. Francois Beauchemin flattens Artem Anisimov near center ice. The hit was good, clean, and hard. Everyone but Anisimov saw it coming. Beauchemin doesn't leave his feet, doesn't lead with his hands in front of his feet, and plants Anisimov on the ice. It was Great north-south hockey hit. I have been on the giving and receiving end of those hits, you have to be aware on that part of the ice. No penalty was called on the hit, but Nick Foligno takes an appropriate roughing call on Beauchemin. And by appropriate, I mean he shoves Beauchemin to the ice and calls him bad names. No punching of a helmeted head.
This next statement may sound a little snotty, but in a city where only 0.5% of the metro area population plays hockey, I'm not surprised fans seemed stunned there was no penalty. Anisimov got drilled. Beauchemin could have dropped a hip on Artem and ended his career, but he didn't. Beauchemin avoided head contact. It was a good clean solid hit. Sometimes you get up from those, some times you get carried off the ice from those. Anisimov seemed a little woozy getting up, but didn't miss a shift. Regardless what you think of the hit, I watched the rest of the game in what seemed like a familiar post-concussionary state.
The second period was ugly. Anaheim scores early in the second as Blue Jacket opponents seem able to do. Bob plays the angles. Bob came off the post wrong and Ryan Getzlaf, once believed inferior to Nikolai Zherdev, squeaks a nifty shot past Bob. To me, this is a brain fart goal. Bob takes a funny angle coming off the post as traffic crosses in front an the puck squirts though. Only a few short minutes later, "Your older brother's Blue Jackets" almost seem to relax and the Ducks score from the corner. This was a soft goal. Bobrovsky should stop every single one of those. From that point in the second, the Jackets seemed stuck in the mud most of the second. Jack Johnson gets called for probably the weakest roughing call of the decade. If that's a roughing call, then every scrum in front of every net ever should at least have 7 roughing calls. But just when it looked like things were going from slow and ugly to worse, Anaheim makes a dumb play on the power play. A dumb play that I bench 12 year-olds when they do it.
Forgive me as I did not write down the Duck's player name involved on the play, so I'll call him Steve from this point on. On the ensuing power play, while in the center of the ice with his back to the play, instead of putting the puck in a safe part of the ice, "Steve" tries to make a weak backhand pass to the right point. The pass is weak, wobbly, and the defenseman bobbles it. Ask any of the defensemen on my pee wee travel team how to get benched. The quickest way to get benched involves the words 'blind' 'weak' 'backhand' 'blueline' and 'center of ice.' Dubinksy scoops up the puck and breaks up the left boards with a streaking Anisimov in the center lane. Arty gives Dubinsky a target, Dubinsky flips Arty a nifty pass on the tape, and Anisimov's skill ties the game at two. This was the only bright spot in the second period for the Blue Jackets. The shorty gave the Jackets fans some life, but it was still slow going on the ice. But if the game doesn't seem odd enough yet, just wait.
Here's the link. The youtube search/link in blogger is awful
With the Ducks breaking in 3-on-5 (yes, you read that right) Dubinsky takes an odd checking lane to come out and challenge the puck carrier high in the zone, old-fart Saku Koivu. You know, that cancer survior. Koivu is breaking over the Blue line at center, gains the zone and passes the puck to the streaking right wing. Dubinksy, in his odd angle for a 3-on-5, finishes with a clean check on Koivu who is looking up ice. It was a bang-bang play. The regroup outside the zone, the pass to Koivu, the pass to the winger, and the Dubinsky hit all happen in less than 4 seconds. The hit drops Koivu who struggled to get to one knee, and needed some assistance from the training staff to leave the ice. After deliberation by all four officials, Dubinsky is given a five minute major and a game misconduct. This was a clean hit, but it takes Slo-Mo replay to clearly identify that.
|Photo Credit - a @mmajeski retweet|
Three things worked against Dubinksy in this scenaro: 1. It was a bang-bang play. Over and done in mere seconds. 2. Dubinsky takes a weird checking angle. The Jackets were already in the zone moving with the flow of the play and Dubinsky comes out high to check Koivu. The check, ending in concussion or not, takes Dubinksy out position in Dzone coverage for the next several seconds. And because it's such a weird checking angle, Dubinsky T-bones Koivu. and the most determining factory why Dubinsky got ejected... 3. DUBINSKY HAD HIS HANDS HIGH!! The hit was clean, but at impact his arms were above his belly button. And because he t-bones Koivu, through the natural momentum of the check, Dubinsky's elbows and arms come up AFTER impact. But what you see is elbow high and Saku down. The hit looked bad. If Dubinsky gets his hands waist high and keeps his stick below the waist or on the ice during that hit, no penalty. Koivu probably still needs help off the ice, but Dubinksy doesn't get tossed. I will be interested to see what the league has to say. The only thing league could say is that Dubinsky didn't 'avoid' contact to the head - which would be stupid, you give a 5 and a game for TARGETING the head, not for not avoiding it. I have said it before, there is too much hitting in this league with hands and sticks high. Dubinsky had a five and a game last season for boarding, so I not sure if he's on any sort of watch list. Oh, and he's not the captain.
It's easy to blame the go ahead 3-2 goal early in the third on the bad penalty to Dubinsky. But remember, because of the angle, speed, and hands you had to see slow motion replay to know for sure it wasn't an elbow to the melon on Koivu. Everyone in the building saw the Anisimov/Beauchemin hit coming. Even some blind dude in Saginaw saw it. Oh, and I blame that 3rd ducks goal on puck watching and puck chasing on the defensemen down low. How the penalty happened is irrelevant. Hope seemed lost after that. How could the Jackets ever recover? They looked awful in the second, they gave up the go ahead goal early in the third. But at 8:24 of the third, James Wisniewski collects the puck from Foligno, puts a nice wrist shot toward the goal, and a streaking Anisimov tips home his second goal of the game to tie it at 3. The play starts with good work down low by RJ Umberger, but it's Wiz and Arty who finish it off. The "Never say Die" Blue Jackets found a way to tie the game, and they did it with good old fashion hard work, and a puck on net from Wisniewski.
But it was not meant to be. With under 2 and a half minutes to play in the game, Ryan Johansen collects a benign dump in from the ducks and banks it of the side of the net. The puck comes out to Corey Perry, who never gave up on the play, faked a slop shot from 10 feet as he was crashing from the slot, pulled the puck wide right and waited for Bobrovsky to dive before roofing the puck and popping Bob's bottle. It was now 4-3 Ducks with 2:24 to play. I'm not sure why Bobrovsky dives instead doing a T-push or some fancy upright goalie move that goalie coaches always work on with goalies. Bobrovsky's right skate was planted for a push, but he dove instead.
A minute later, the Jackets go on their first power play of the game with just under 90 seconds to play. With their goalie pulled, the Jackets sustain good pressure but can't put the puck in the back of the net. Disappointment ensues. The game has a very, "what the heck just happened" feel to it during the second and third period, and that's how the game ended. Emotionally spent from the last two games, I have chosen to write this in classic recap style. Arty was electric most of the night. Dubinsky looked like a stud before his early shower. Bob had a bad night and I don't remember seeing Jack Johnson on the ice during the last 90 seconds of a 6-on-4 power play.
This game was strange. It was odd. It had things you didn't see every day: Bob bad - maybe fatigued. A shorty. Two guys getting blown up. One guy taking a shower. A WTF just happened goal with 150 seconds left in the game. But again, it was a tale of two teamies. The Blue Jackets we saw in the first period were delicious. Then the touch and go inconsistent Blue Jackets we saw the rest of the game was a bad taste we know all to well. And for me, I'm not so sure a surreal loss is the type of loss I want to see happen when the Jackets are idle for 5 days before a home and home against the Penguins this Friday and Saturday. But the team is full of professional athletes. It's early enough in the season where they can pick themselves up, take a whiff of the smelling salts, shake out the cobwebs, and take advantage of these next few days to work hard and prepare for the Pens. That's what I'm telling myself anyways.
Yay Chaput. Go Jackets.
****EDIT - I forgot my haiku!!*****
Arty goes boom; scores
Dubi hits big, takes a shower
Bob bad, Perry Kills