Thursday, April 2, 2015

Life in the Barn

Jack Johnson scores again
Tonight the Columbus Blue Jackets won their eighth straight game defeating the playoff bound New York Islanders 4-3 in a shoot out.  This game had some very interesting dynamics.  Basically, in all three periods the CBJ coughed up an early goal.  Then they would sort of grind their way back into the game.  The Jackets were successful in limiting the Islanders high power transition game, something that we have not been able to do in the beatings they handed to us earlier in the season.  Then they seemed to grind their way back into the the game as each period went on.

The Jackets tied it in the first after surrendering the traditional first goal.  It's what they do at home.  Dalton Prout bounced one in off of Dubinsky's boot to tie the game.  After a mostly back and forth affair, the Islanders got the next two goals, and one had to wonder if the Jackets late season run was about to come to an end.

But the Jackets kept at it, while the Islanders kind of quit shooting.  This resulted in lot of pressure in the Islanders end, which they successfully fought off for quite awhile.  But finally, shortly after the midway point of the third period, the Jackets broke through.  In the midst of a scrum, where it seemed like Wennberg put the puck on net twice, Hartnell once, Foligno came screaming by on a strafing run on the crease, and finally Jack Johnson was the unaccounted man, canning the fifth attempt as he crashed the net.  This was a big goal and a funny thing happened.  The building woke up.

To put this in perspective, these late season games have shown a very normal reaction in Nationwide Arena.  We have watched many a Jackets team play out the string, and its normal for the building to be fairly quiet, cheers start slowly, and don't have a lot of oomph.  It's the way the building is under these circumstances.  Indeed, that phenomenon is partly why the crazy atmosphere of last year was so late in blooming, its not what we are used to.  But truly, to anyone who experienced last year's playoff run, it is difficult to forget the thunderous atmosphere in the Arena.  But it is not to be this year, it derailed long ago.  Well, OK.  Been there, done that.

But a funny thing happened tonight after that Jack Johnson goal.  The crowd really woke up, and made some good noise.  Which is something these players need to hear.  Part of me wants to say they deserve to hear it, but that's not quite right.  If we were in the playoffs, they would deserve it.  We can't have that, but it's important to remind them that it is there if they can go out an take this thing next year.  And the Islanders are a good reminder of all of this, as they pretty much put themselves in playoff contention with their early play this season, and have held on to that, so they will get the reward.

Back to tonight, the crowd was getting loud and the Jackets were responding.  Late in the period, Jenner took the puck behind the Islander's net, fed the puck out to Savard who sent a shot in that Cam Atkinson tipped on goal, and Ryan Johansen came in from the back door to bat the puck home for the tying goal.  After killing off a bogus delay of game penalty late, the Jackets sent the game to overtime.

The overtime period was thrilling, with the CBJ putting a barrage of pucks on net as the Islanders had to kill an OT penalty, but to no avail, so the game went to a shootout.  Letestu and Johansen scored, Bob said Nyet!, and the win was in the books.

I was glad to hear the loud crowd tonight.  This winning streak is a day late, and a dollar short, but still is something of worth.  The players should hear that we value their effort, and they heard it tonight.  Don't get me started about Wennberg.  This guy is starting to look like a really special player.



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  2. Wish the Jackets could have played with similar efforts in close games all season. Getting Boone Jenner back from injury has certainly helped.

  3. I disagree that they only deserve that level of crowd enthusiasm for playoff games. However, their play at home this year has had a tendency to be sleepy and pre defeated. I haven't decided if the team responded to the crowd, if the crowd responded to team playing like they wanted to win or a little of both. Either way, I've been to 18 games this year and last night was phenomenal. Last night was the reason I go to hockey games. Definitely looking forward to next season!