|Nick Foligno, a hat trick and 30 goals|
I lost a really sweet hat tonight, but was able to race downstairs to the Blue Line and cop an excellent replacement of the same ilk. I have been wearing that hat all year, and unfortunately missed the game when Hartnell got his hat trick (though I did buy an 'after the fact' hat for the summer because it was my birthday), so had a lot of fun tossing a much loved hat tonight.
Nick Foligno. What can you say? A hat trick to get to 30 goals for the first time in his career. It makes a guy who bought his jersey last year feel really good. What a year! The funny thing about Nick is that I don't think those things are what defines him to himself as a hockey player. Whether he gets to 30 goals next year is not a measure he will use to gauge his play next year, it will be how solid is his play. Well done Nick, well done indeed!
Another lively barn tonight, as the Pittsburgh fans, fated to be disappointed (LOL), tried to establish themselves as the dominant fan base in the arena. And indeed, there was quite the roar as Crosby, who actually showed for this game in Columbus, scored the first goal (stick tap to Mrs. Gallos for that crack). At the midway mark of the second period, off another goal tender interference that wasn't called, the Penguins scored on a goal tender who had been spun around in the crease and had his back to the puck. Unfortunately for the Penguins, Bobrovsky faced the puck for the rest of the game.
With time winding down in the second period, I can remember thinking to myself 'if we can get out of the period only down 2-0 we'll be good'. Then I reflected, and realized that that was the best way to be down 3-0, so revised my thought to, 'we need to get one at the end of the period to get us into this game!' Well, the CBJ executed, with goals by Foligno and Calvert to end the second period and tie the game. This totally changed the crowd dynamic in Nationwide Arena, as the home fans started to assert their dominance.
The Jackets opened the first half of the third period with 2 goals to take a 4-2 lead, with goals by Foligno and Hartnell. Pittsburgh answered the second goal, but ultimately, Nick Foligno canned the empty netter to secure the 3rd hat trick in the recent winning streak by the CBJ, as well as the win. Their was no question as to which fan base was in charge at the end, as the Pens fans streamed to the exits.
The Penguins know in their heart that they are the much better of the two teams. The early lead fed into their superiority complex. Unfortunately, the CBJ players didn't drink the Kool-Aid, and proceeded to lay 5 goals on them. This loss wasn't about Marc-Andre Fleury. He actually played very well, and kept the Pens in the game early. This was about the guys playing in front of him. If they want to do anything in the playoffs, its time for them to start respecting their opponents, and their abilities, and coming to play, realizing they may not be the best team. Crosby scored tonight, but they lost. Wait. Did I say that? No, seriously, the Penguins are a much better team than the Blue Jackets, and they will pretty much always win. Trust me. I know what I'm talking about. No need to change a thing. Ha ha ha ha! It's important to stay the course. After all, we will have to play these superior beings next year. Snort. Snicker. Harumph. Yeah. They sure are good. Chortle.
Tonight the Blue Jackets set a franchise record winning streak. This erases one of their early season losing streaks, but too little too late, as they were mathematically eliminated by a Bruins victory after the last CBJ win. Next year they CANNOT let the losing streaks happen early. It's ok to lose. It's going to happen. You can't let those 9 game losing streaks happen. This team has set plenty of franchise records. Next year they need to set a franchise record by winning a playoff series. But much work to be done between now and then.