Saturday, March 1, 2014

Game 60: Pee-an-thers

Did you know that Junior High School Cheerleaders can make a two syllable word into a 3 syllable word?  It's an amazing thing to hear, no doubt.  But I need to jump it up a couple of notches from amateur junior high school sports to professional hockey.  The Columbus Blue Jackets didn't do a lot 5 on 5 tonight, but capitalized in most other situations to pull away in a 6-3 victory on home ice that was really much closer than the score indicates.  The CBJ capitalized on three power play goals, a short handed goal, and two empty netters.  Florida capitalized on egregious blue line turnovers that led to odd man rushes the other way, beating Bobrovsky with three of them, in spite of the fervent prayers of the trailing defensemen.   In a tie game, at 3-3 late in the second period, Arty Anisimov scored a short handed goal with 10 seconds left in the period to sap the Panthers of what momentum they had.  This play was all about individual effort, and Arty never gave up on the puck, and scored a nice shortie.  That seemed to take the starch out of Florida, and though they never gave up, that was the turning point.

1. My first cold CBJ beer for tonight goes to David Savard.  Big game by Savvy tonight.  With Tyutin out of the line up, the demands on Savard are much higher, and he answered the call tonight, with essentially two power play goals.  The first was a nice shot from the point that Cam Atkinson reached out and deflected.  Props to Cam on the good positioning and hand-eye coordination, but Savard laid it right on net.  His second point, a goal, came on a strong move to the net.  Gathering the puck at the point while on the power play, Savard made a strong move to the net, with just enough deke to get him into the low slot unmolested, where he buried a nice backhand through traffic.  This was a real nice play, with a well deserved result.

2. My second CBJ beer for the night goes to RJ Umberger.  He got the scoring going early, converting a James Wisniewski point shot on the power play into a goal, by virtue of his aggressive positioning in front of the net.  With his 16th goal of the season, Umberger seems on a path to return to a 20 goal scoring plateau.  That's a good season for RJ, and he leads the team in power play goals.  Good hard work to capture the momentum early.

3. My third, ice cold, delicious, CBJ beer goes to Artem Anisimov.  Arty scored the game winning goal, in a much more meaningful sense than the statistical sense, by potting a short handed goal with 10 seconds remaining in the second period of a game tied at 3-3.  This was a back breaker for Florida, similar to the shortie that the CBJ coughed up to the New Jersey Devils.  This play was all about effort, and it started with Arty not quitting on a puck, which went from behind the goal to the sidewall.  Arty chased it down there, took it from 2 Florida players, then headed for the net.  This was a huge, momentum turning goal, with a work effort base as a foundation.

4.  My fourth cold CBJ beer is for getting back on the winning track.  This is a crucial stretch of games in a tight playoff race.  Tonight the CBJ kept pace with Philadelphia, who beat the Rangers.  To advance, this team will need to string wins together.  Nonetheless, you have to start somewhere, so the win enables them to try to cobble together a streak.

5. My fifth CBJ beer goes to empty netters.  After coughing up the first one to Nick Foligno to give the Jackets a two goal lead, most teams would surrender to the inevitable and leave the goaltender in the net.  Not Florida, who pulled the goalie so that Matt Calvert could get on the board with an empty netter.  Calvert may have been squeezed down to the fourth line by Marian Gaborik, but that doesn't mean Richie doesn't trust him, so he was out during the crucial waning moments of the game.

6.  My sixth CBJ beer goes to Gaborik, for the dimension he brings to the team.  He is most definitely not back in form after missing so much time, but he looks quicker than I have ever seen him since we traded for him.  He showed some explosive quickness, and played a reasonably responsible game.  He's not in there to bang with people.  One really nice thing he did defensively was back check.  In one instance right at our end of the ice, so I saw it well, Florida regained possession.  As they started up the ice, Gaborik reached out with his stick, and attacked the puck and stick of the Florida player with the puck.  The upshot of that was that they were unable to clear the zone, and the CBJ were able to establish a significant offensive cycle, that finally lead to a penalty.  And when the CBJ were on the power play, they were scoring tonight.  It was a little play of not quitting on the puck, but it turned into big things.  So long as he does those things, than all will be well.

Good win tonight as the Blue Jackets try to establish some post Olympic break momentum.

I am so glad we are not in the West.  Holy Moly.  LA Kings, Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks, St Louis Blues, and Chicago Blackhawks all stand in your way if you want to be a playoff team.  Yowza!  Them's some good teams!  The East is so much more comfortable!

Up next, Monday night on the road against Toronto.

Go Jackets!!

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