Monday, January 27, 2014

So DBJ watched CBJ Game 52: Carolina

Carolina 3 - Columbus 2
The Columbus Blue Jackets came out guns a-blazin' in Raleigh tonight, putting two goals past the host Carolina Hurricanes, then the game settled down into a mishmash of...well...not much before the Hurricanes exploded with three goals over a span of less than three minutes in the third period to stun the CBJ and win the game, 3-2, in regulation.

Where to begin.

OK, I've been on vacation for two weeks.  It's down south of the border, a nice place full of warm memories:

Don't know if you can see the score box on the GCL screen, but that was me watching
Scott Arniel's last game as CBJ coach.  Good times, good times.  Pass the chips and salsa!

Well, things change and my internet wasn't half of what it was.  Probably all those damned kids and their networked gaming systems on one side and the Netflix users on the other...totally squeezing me out of the necessary bandwidth.  Point being, I could barely get email during peak hours.  So watching actual games was out of the question...especially as I couldn't hit a real sports bar, what with my young family and all keeping me on a tighter leash than in past years.

So I couldn't watch jack.  Well, outside of telenovelas and a better version of TNT than what we get in the States (the movies were great).  No hockey, no CBJ.  But I kept up with things.  I was hearing that the Blue Jackets were kicking butt.  I was reading Gallos and Morgan's recaps.  Something good was happening.  Then, all of a sudden, a team record eighth straight win.

Again, from a prior vacation.  The point remains, however, that it took the wisdom of Mayan gods to tell me
whether to risk jinxing this unprecedented CBJ greatness and come home.
It was time to return, back to Polar Vorteces (Is that the proper plural form of "Vortex"?), work, snow, snow and more snow.  Seriously, what's with all the snow in Columbus? We never get snow like that.  I'm used to it from my days in South Bend and parts north, but this is ridiculous.  But I digress.

I'm sitting in George Bush International Airport in Houston, a reasonably OK airport totally screwed up by some Texas software vendor's passport identification software (only at Houston, and I can say with confidence that the official government passport agents HATE the Houston computers).  I look at the cell phone - back on US soil, so cell reception and wireless data is BACK, baby! - and see that the CBJ are down 2-0 in the first to Buffalo.  Say what? And then it winds up something like 5-2 while I was in the air headed north...I only found out when I landed.  So I was returning home, and the streak was gone.

NOT MY FAULT!

Fast forward to tonight.  I was kinda jazzed, looking forward to seeing this "new look" CBJ team that rampaged through the league for the past two weeks.

The first three or four minutes of game play was pretty cool to see.  The Blue Jackets were making things happen, what with goals from Umberger and Mackenzie seizing control of the game.  Then it slowed down.  A lot.  But hey, this was the team that won eight straight before derailing for an evening against Buffalo, so they know what they're doing.  They'll get it back together, right?  RIGHT?

Folks, the CBJ I saw from about the 16:00 mark of the first period onward was distinctly non-overwhelming.  I was trying to dissect what Richards' scheme was and got nothing.  It wasn't a puck possession game.  It wasn't a team that crashed the nets all night long.  It wasn't a team that relied on its sharpshooters.  Honestly, it was a team that looked content to coast through the rest of the game.  There was no sustained effort.  Which, as Carolina verrrrry slowly built a head of steam, led me to think, "Oh, it's all about BOB.  Just like last season.  I get it..." as Sergei Bobrovsky was forced to make more and more saves to backstop a decidedly unspectacular team defense.

THIS was the team that won eight straight?

And then the floodgates opened.  The Staals went crazy, dropped three in, and the CBJ roster was slack-jawed.  Game over.

The shots on goal tell the story of the game.  The Blue Jackets started out 7-0 in shots, then lost the shot differential battle 35-24 for all three periods.  That means that after the very, very impressive start, Carolina outshot Columbus 35-17.  YOW.

Now I'm not going to draw any systemic conclusions.  It's one game, and these crazy long seasons are all about trends.  I've been out of it for a couple of weeks and, in many respects, am starting fresh.

I have to tell you, though, I was underwhelmed by what I saw tonight...and not just that third period meltdown.

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In other news, I understand that both John Davidson and Jarmo Kekalainen are kicking the tires hard with the Colorado Avalanche.  P.A. Parenteau is rumored to be on the trade block, and Columbus has a gaggle of young defensemen to spare for a defense-sparse Avalanche team without touching Ryan Murray.  Which of course means that it'll be Tim Erixon, seeing as his is the game-worn jersey I won in the Season Ticket Holder renewal sweepstakes this past off-season.

I understand that other teams also are circling, so it's by no means a done deal, but I love the fact that the Blue Jackets are finally looking to make some moves and upgrade the team's talent pool.  (Sorry, Corey Tropp, a waiver wire pickup doesn't count.)  I'll take another 50-60 points a season, gladly.

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NEXT UP: The Ottawa Senators ride their steeds into Nationwide Arena on Tuesday night, giving the Blue Jackets the welcome opportunity to erase the bad taste of this loss.

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