|Blue Jackets - 5 ; The team that thought Mike Milbury wasn't|
the worst GM in the history of hockey - 2.
The Blue Jackets played host to the New York Islanders at Nationwide Arena tonight. The Jackets were nestled in the thralls of a 5 game losing streak. Coaches were dropping gloves, fans were crying for Prospal, leaders dropped subtweets. It was a very awkward two days since Columbus played the New York Blue Jackets and a 5-2 win against the wandering Islanders is exactly what the Jackets needed to make twitter bearable once again. #Vinning
It was also military appreciation night at Nationwide Arena. This was a special night for me as I was at the game with my dad, a purple heart recipient who still struggles to talk about his military service decades removed from action. This country wastes a lot of time trying to make amends for it's shortcomings of the past. Military appreciation night is one of the things this country does right. For my dad, his time in the service and intelligence community was the ugly parts of a Rambo movie and an Ian Fleming novel mixed together. Special Nights like this help him heal a little bit. When he returned home from hell 40 years ago, he was not welcomed with yellow ribbons or hugs on the runaway. He was spit on and slapped across the face in airports. Nights like tonight are not only for the brave men and women currently in service for this country, they are also 'wink and nod' apologies to those who served in the armed forces when it was less than popular to do so. Thanks Dad for all you did and all you've taught me. Wow, that got heavy... let's get back to Blue Jackets hockey.
The skill of the last few games remained the same for the Blue Jackets, but the effort and bounces were markedly improved. There was very little puck watching by the Blue Jackets in Dzone this game. There were moments when you felt frustrated about the Jackets not capitalizing on chances, but there wasn't an extended period of time when the Jackets looked awful. The Islanders brought some pressure, but the the puck watching that plagued the back end of the Jackets zone was gone. The Blue Jackets didn't play like a Soviet-era Juggernaut, but they found ways to put the puck in the back of the net. That, and Vanek played for like 4 seconds.
In the first, Captain of the Universe heaves a dump-in from the slot that doinks off the right post and banks off of Nabokov's skate and crosses the goal line. It was awesome and everyone in the world forgot the five game losing streak. But in the twilight of the first period the Islander's version of Jari Kurri catches the Blue Jackets backing up too much on the rush and scores on a wrister with 35 seconds left in the 1st. Not sure if Coach Richards has a greaseboard, but if he did, it would be in 72,000 pieces after that goal. An NHL Vezina winner should stop that benign shot. But, struggling teams get rewarded for going to the net. Fan's didn't feel all warm and fuzzy heading to the concession stand after the first.
The Second period saw the Islander get snipe nasty on Bobrovsky. There was really nothing you can do on the Islanders second goal if you're Bob. But something encouraging did happen on the Jacket's goal in the second. The Jackets displayed some offensive skill. Dubinsky springs Johansen up the middle giving him the time and space he needed to beat the NYI D and Nabakov. Those are the types of goals the Jackets will need to score playing in the Metro. Hard hat, lunch pail goals are great. But every now and again and guy making 4 million dollars a year better be able to spring a first round draft pick for a pretty goal. That goal was satisfying to me in all aspects of how I view the team.
As the Jackets entered the 3rd, there were still very few moments when the Jackets looked bad. There was the occasional turnover that was aggravating, but there wasn't a ton of slop in the Blue Jackets game. And RJ Umberger found out what happens on the Powerplay when James Wisniewski puts the puck on net - goals can be scored. Minutes later Johansen sets up Atkinson who buries backhander top shelf to give the Jackets a 4-2 lead. The Isles pull their net minder with about 2 minutes left, and Wisniewksi sinks a birdie putt from about 198 feet on an empty netter to seal the game and give Bobrovsky a helper. Bobrovsky had more points on the night that Gaborik.
The win was satisfying for Blue Jackets fans as it snapped a 5-game skid. The Blue Jackets didn't have a dominating performance, but it was certainly better in all three zones. This game didn't scream "Eastern Conference Finals!" but it certainly let you know that the Jackets can still find a way to win games. Bobrovsky still looks shaky. The first Islanders goal was on Bob. Maybe he was a little screened, but it squirted through. He made some big stops, but he was looking behind him after making the first save a little too much. Goalies that are steeped in confidence know where the puck is headed once they've deflected it wide. Bob had a couple "Where did he go George?" moments this evening that gave me pause for concern.
But this Blue Jackets win felt good, maybe more so because it wasn't a pretty one. Even though Gaborik was a non-factor, Johansen scored, Umberger scored, and Atkinson scored goals. Dubinsky scores on a puck that bounces the Jackets way twice, and Wiz drains one from Downtown. The Jackets worked hard and the bounced went their way. This team isn't going to mesmerize you with skill, so wins like tonight are especially satisfying. The Jackets have Sunday off before a Monday practice and a road game Tuesday against the Capitals. Ovechkin is hot. Not his face or looks, but his goal scoring. I suspect Johansen will be studying lots of Ovechkin film the next couple days. He'd better...
And now, the game in one haiku
Veterans get applause
Jackets end the ugly streak
Bob played with a lead