Saturday, November 16, 2013

So DBJ was at CBJ Game 19: Montreal

Montreal 3 - Columbus 2 (Shootout)
The Blue Jackets wrapped up their final home game for the next ten-plus days with a shootout loss to the Montreal Canadiens, 3-2, at Nationwide Arena in front of an announced crowd of 11,562 (about 20-25% of whom were wearing Habs gear).

Long story short about the game: I sensed backsliding going on.  It's one thing to get a standings point in an overtime loss against the Bruins - a team that could just as well win the Stanley Cup this season - but it's another altogether to lose to a de facto .500 team in the Canadiens.  The team didn't have nearly as much focus and drive as they did last night.  In fact, this improbable CBJ scoring play pretty much encapsulates the night on the ice:


Nikita Nikitin flops like a seal on the ice, the puck dribbles around and Artem Anisimov - who's been a ghost for most of the season - gets the goal.  And wouldn't you know, Nikitin gets the assist.  Epic.

Even NHL.com linked the goal on their home page with the teaser: "Watch: Anisimov scores bizarre goal vs. Habs".  Bizarre goal, indeed.

Thing is, it could have gone just as wrong.  Like, say, a Montreal goal with 7.9 seconds left in the period.  Focus, gents....focus.

So we go to overtime...then to the shootout...and the crap shoot of a game ends with the Canadiens winning.
Yes, I'm a tad disappointed.  Sure, it's a standings point...but the Blue Jackets had it in them to win.  Of course, you need to avoid being outshot 40-25 if you want to have the odds in your favor.

One little bright spot - I think the return of Nick Foligno is doing wonders for R.J. Umberger's competitiveness.  Foligno is a "motor" guy...he always is looking to go straight to the net...and I think that R.J. may have needed that.  In the larger picture, this team needs "motor" guys up and down the roster to push the team to score.

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The personal side of the game was fun and very different, as it was FOXSportsOhio.com Night on TV and yours truly (along with my FSO digital cohort, Alison Lukan) had a standup interview with FSO's Dave Maetzold during the pregame show.  That meant that we hung around in the green room with Dave, Dan Kamal and Brian Giesenschlag.  We also got a quick tour of the FSO control room truck (an impressive setup, one that they apparently have to recreate from scratch in the six hours before every game.

Hanging out in the green room and walking through the hallways under the arena mean that you see elements of the team and the game that you just don't get otherwise.  My big takeaway from the night came from the soccer ball kickaround that some of the roster was doing to loosen up before the game.  These guys are lean.  As in thin.  They wear a lot of bulky gear - loose-fitting sweaters, oversized/padded pants, thick socks - so you don't see how thin they are.  When all they're wearing is their under armor and gym shorts, you see it.  I always heard that players lost lots of weight and muscle mass over the course of the season, but I never would have thought it would come so early in the season.  Or maybe they start lean.  Who knows? Anyhoo, I was surprised and impressed.
Quoth the Dark Blue Kiddo: "THAT'S MY DADDY!"

Then, the interview.  Let's do the self- analysis.  I haven't had a chance to see it yet, but I did note a few things.  First, I have a cold and that's probably evident.  Second, I ad-lib like crap...and stumble around on my words when ad-libbing.  Such is life.  Also, I would guess that I was looking at the imaginary paper to figure out what I was going to say.  Dave's a good interviewer, but going through even a 15 second interview makes one realize how composed those hockey players need to be night in and night out.

After the interview, I headed up to the CBJ's Social Suite for the first time.  It's a nice setup, made better by the DKM Hockey podcast which I joined in progress.  DBJ contributor Morgan led the proceedings, and it made for some very interesting conversation with him, John Kemp and Zach Prater from the Arch City Army.  We were all over the place - from the serious to the goofy to the -- well, the Nikitin faceplant -- and I have absolutely no idea what will make the podcast.

A very different, fun night at the arena.  Shame the team couldn't pull it out.

Here's the wrapup haiku:

It's FSO Night
Nikitin has epic flop
CBJ fall back

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