|Columbus 2 - Minnesota 1 (Shootout)|
|Carolina 3 - Columbus 1|
You get two, two, two recaps in one!
Sorry I missed the Minnesota recap. It was a weekend, and I have a family. As for the game, I caught the third period and missed the Dalton Prout goal to close the second period. I've seen the replay online, though, and it was a ridiculous blast from the blue line. The third period started with a Minnesota goal, a Zach Parise behind the net feed to a quick-triggered Jason Pominville. If Sergei Bobrovsky had a chance, I can't believe it was a good one.
Anyhoo, the game then locked down, with Bob and Darcy Kuemper (whoever that is) ruling their respective goalie roosts while the teams flailed around in front of them. 8 shots in the 3rd for Columbus, 6 for Minnesota. Overtime was a non-starter (1 shot for each team), so we were off to the shootout. Minnesota jumped out to a 2-0 shootout edge, but Bob shut the rest of the Wild down while he finally got some goal support in the form of three straight shootout goals over Kuemper. Ryan Johansen's game winner was a highlight reel beauty, and the Blue Jackets left The State Of Hockey with two standings points.
On to tonight's game. I think it needs to be addressed on two levels. First, the on-ice stuff. The Blue Jackets out and out dominated the game everywhere but where it counted. Shots: 47-20. Faceoff wins: 37-27. (The all-important) Hits: 46-19. Look at this Fenwick shot chart - I've never seen one where one team was so dominant:
|Graphic from Empty Skater: http://www.extraskater.com/game/2014-03-18-hurricanes-blue-jackets|
And the Hurricanes were less than one minute away from shutting Columbus out.
I've seen a few hockey games now, and I'm not sure that I've ever seen one where a team had stats that lopsided - not to mention such an overwhelming amount of time in the offensive zone - and get destroyed on the scoreboard.
Oh wait, the Blue Jackets had a 2.1% team shooting percentage.
The Hurricanes played a stifling, defense-first game that literally plugged the crease up with as many defenders as they could fit. I'm serious - at time, the Carolina crease looked more like a Ringling Brothers clown car than an NHL rink. How many times did the Blue Jacket defensemen get a clean pass, an open look...and have to pass up the shot because there literally was nothing available to shoot at? It was a mass of humanity in the Carolina net for much of the night.
Beyond that, I'm going to guess that the book on Carolina's Atnon Khudobin was to shoot low. Reason being, that's all Columbus did...shoot low. I rarely saw a glove save from Khudobin, but only because the Blue Jackets never challenged him above his shins.
The agony in the upper deck was palpable. Throughout the first period, I kept telling anyone who would listen, "Just wait. With the number of looks that the Blue Jackets are getting, it'll be a block party once the dam finally breaks." It never broke. The second period was just frustration - a guy a couple rows in front of me shouted, "How can the laws of physics allow this to happen to us?" He had a point. The third period was disbelief, first because the CBJ still couldn't score a flipping goal despite being down 3-0 and second because Sergei Bobrovsky was yanked in favor of Curtis McElhinney.
Because nothing sparks an offensive explosion like a goalie change.
Needless to say, the goalie change didn't affect the outcome.
The Blue Jackets don't need to win every game down the stretch to make the playoffs, but losing to teams that sit far below them in the standings makes the rest of the March to the Playoffs that much more difficult, and unnecessarily so.
Enough is enough. Let's hope the team gets back on track, and that means regulation wins - a whole heaping bunch of them.
NEXT UP: Montreal, at the Bell Centre, on Thursday night. Seeing as the Blue Jackets went from 2nd in the Metro Division to the 8th seed in the East in a single night, I guess we're back into "Must Win" territory. Sigh.