Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Seeing The Elephant

There is an old saying about going into armed combat.  You can talk about it all you want, but until you have been there, you have not 'seen the elephant'.  Tonight the Columbus Blue Jackets went into enemy territory, fought hard, but ultimately lost the battle to an apparently superior foe.  Please note that I said they lost the battle.  They have not yet lost the war.  In fact, I would suggest tonight that winning this battle would have had a detrimental effect on winning the war.  Whereas losing this battle, does not determine the outcome of the war.  Not at all.  Our guys have 'seen the elephant'.

The Pittsburgh Penguins played like a superior team.  They scored through the tiniest cracks in the Jackets defense.  In fact I'd suggest that they scored at times when there were no cracks.  They brought their game, and they played well.  Likewise, the CBJ brought their game, and they played well.  I think it would be fair to say both sides would like to have a couple of plays back.  At the end, it was tied going into the third period, Pittsburgh made a good play, and they won.  Credit to them.  But this was no blow out of inadequately matched teams.  There is, however, the possibility that Pittsburgh will regard it as such.

The dynamic of these playoffs is that the home team has to hold their serve, to use a tennis analogy.  You need to win your home games.  You have an advantage in the face off, and you have the last line change.  Technically, you should win your home games.  By virtue of being the higher seed, Pittsburgh only has to win one road game to prevail, while the CBJ need to win two.  Johnson, Letestu, and MacKenzie score tonight.  Dollars will get you donuts that different players score on Saturday.  That is the strength of the CBJ.  Likewise, the Pens can say their secondary scoring won the battle, which is true.  But will they win the war?

I tried to explain to my Dad that dumping the puck, and grinding possession is like running the football.  It conveys benefits down the road.  The Jackets did some good grinding tonight.  They need to do more on Saturday.  But they had a couple those shifts in this game, the first game.  Can they have more in the second game, and more in the third?

Pittsburgh won tonight, 4-3.  They are 25% of the way out of this series.  The next percentage points may be harder to earn.  Will they elevate their game to earn them? They may.  Or they may not.  It remains to be seen.

I am content.  It was fun.  Our guys played well, yet they lost.  That's hockey.  The other guys are good.  Make no mistake.  But you don't win them on paper.  We lost the battle, but we are undeterred.  Next Saturday should be interesting.

GO JACKETS!!!!  BATTLE ON!!

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