Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Game 66: Winged in Cbus

Tonight the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Detroit Redwings 4-1 in Nationwide Arena, in front of a raucous crowd that had its normal fairly large contingent of Redwings fans.  The Redwings fans were abnormally quiet, which is understandable given their teams injury situation.  The Redwings came out skating hard, and dominated play for the first 15 minutes, but unfortunately for them were only able to come out of the period of domination with one goal, thanks to Sergei Bobrovsky's efforts.  At the 15:11 mark of the first, Nick Foligno scored from his belly to tie his career high in goals as well as the game score.  Much like the game in Nashville, the CBJ steadily ramped up the pressure on Detroit until they broke through for 3 goals in the last half of the third period.  The deluge was started by a Boone Jenner goal, off a strong shift of fore checking and puck battles, which allowed Jenner to walk out from behind the net uncontested, and roof one over Mrazek, the Redwings goal tender.  Forty seconds later Dubinsky had one in, and five minutes later MacKenzie got the clinching goal.

This was an outrageously fun game to attend, following a solid pre-game at Gordon Biersch.  The intensity builds from here folks, so now is the time to start making ticket deals.  The CBJ stand in third place in the Metro as I type, no wild card stuff.  No first round against Pittsburgh either.  So this is all 'win and you're in' for the rest of the way, with the Jackets playing sound, fun to watch hockey.  Next up are the Sharks, on Thursday, and a chance to erase the loss on the West Coast.

The Jackets responded slowly but affirmatively to the incident in Dallas last night.  I understand that Rich Peverley is doing well, and our thoughts and prayers continue to be with him and his family.  Get well Rich, you represent the league well.

1.  My first CBJ beer of this six pack goes to my man, the guy whose jersey I have been wearing since Christmas, Nick Foligno.  Detroit thoroughly dominated the first 15 minutes of the game, but Nick tied it up at the 15:11 mark of the first, scoring an effort goal laying on his belly at the top of the crease.  This goal is representative of a great effort by Jenner, Johnasen, and Foligno.  I think if Nick wouldn't have been able to get his stick on the puck, Johansen would have.  Interesting forward line for that goal, Foligno, Johansen, and Horton.  I think likely because of the work the penalty killers had done earlier in the period.  But coming out of the first period tied after Detroit's initial onslaught was a pretty big deal in this game.

2. My second CBJ beer goes to Sergei Bobrovsky.  Arguably the first beer could have gone to Bob, but after a stellar first period, where he stopped a couple of different point blank shots, he only had to make the occasional great save down the way, and his defense gave him shots he could see without much traffic.  But one thing is clear.  This is no game without Bobrovsky and he looked to be in top form for this playoff game.  Huge points on the line, and Bob came up really large.  Thank you Bob.  This Budrovsky is for you!

3. My third CBJ beer goes to Boone Jenner, for scoring the game winning goal after retrieving the puck behind the net, then walking out and roofing it.  He made a calm, but extremely energetic play to score this goal.  In other words, he worked hard to get to the puck, but once he had it, there was no rush, and no panic, but likewise, there was no delay.  Retrieve, walk out, turn, fire, goal, lead, game.  Lotsa fun to have with your teammates, and the best part was seeing how happy he was going down the line of players and bumping fists.  You should come down to the arena if only for the pure, visceral pleasure of shouting 'BOOOOOOOOONNNNNEEEE' as loud as you can.  It's great therapy.  Trust me on this.

4.  My fourth CBJ beer goes to Cam Atkinson, cause it's always good to have a beer with your nachos.  Another way to say this is that my fourth beer goes to development, and Cam Atkinson's bright future.  I think every really great player went through a stretch like this, and it's important for Cam to know that playing time is earned, and there is a level of effort that is the bottom line, because the team can be successful with that level of effort.  I expect big things out of Cam when he returns to the lineup, but its an important lesson on making sure that your team wins.  I wonder if this propels him to a 20 goal season?  Anyway, don't read too much into this 'benching' as a fan.  The Coach didn't like the results, he made some changes, the changes are working.  Feel for him, that's fine, but this is going to make him a better player in the long run.  Chin up Cam, we still love you.  Even though John Kemp is your father.  But you didn't have a choice in that.

5. My fifth CBJ beer goes to Head Coach Todd Richards.  Richie, you're a beauty.  Never underestimate how badly the playoff fever burns in his belly.  He wants this bad.  But he has done a masterful job with this team.  Look folks, I've watched a lot of Blue Jackets hockey over the years.  I have watched 'fragile psyche' try to play hockey in the NHL.  See Arniel, Scott.  The thing I like so much is that this is a mentally tough team, and I think that springs from the Head Coach.  It is my belief that this arises from the way he handles the players, knowing when they need to do their own thing, and knowing when they need pushed.  Richie walked out of his first firing from Minnesota, and learned a bunch of lessons.  Failure can be an awesome teacher sometimes, if you have the personal capacity to learn from it.  Todd Richards has that capacity, and I am coming to admire him more and more as a coach.  Atta boy Richie!!!

6.  Holy crap, am I already at my sixth beer?  What to do, what to do?  So many drivers, no passengers.  Hmmmm.  I'm going to give this beer for Matt Calvert, for redemption.  Calvert looked lost in the first period, gliding around, and when Detroit scored their goal, it seemed to paralyze his legs, and he quit skating.  Someone got in his 'upper body' (ear, face, I don't know!), and by the third period he was making a drive to the net that forced the Redwings to haul him down.  Nonetheless, he was able to pass it to Dubinsky for the all important two goal lead.  When MacKenzie scored 5 minutes later, they were done.  These goals all dripped effort, which bodes well for this team.

Wow.  Two huge points in the game win, although it is a 4 point swing between Detroit and the CBJ.  That leaves us in third in the conference, no first round game with Pittsburgh, and a lot of games to play yet.  Win and your in.  It is a great time to be a Jackets fan!

GO JACKETS!!!


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