Sunday, November 15, 2015

Well Gosh, That Sure Feels Better!!

Karlsson Scores 2 Goals to Continue a Solid Run of Play.
The sky is a little bluer, the sun is a little brighter, and the Jackets have put together a little 2 game winning streak.  This feeling is not a coincidence.  The Jackets played two feisty games against two opponents that were on winning streaks of their own, and ground out two victories.  With a 2-1 victory at Pittsburgh Friday night, and the home win (finally) last night against Arizona, 5-2 the Jackets remain in last place, but the vibe is quite a bit different, and they look like they are ready to start climbing.

Lots of scrums last night, with Boll, Campbell and Rychel leading the charge and Hartnell conspiring to keep the pot stirred.  This helped fuel a change in momentum late in the second period.  I had a lot of love for Mike Arace's comment over on the Columbus Dispatch, when talking about Ryan Johansen's game as a Jason Chimera hat trick, a goal, an assist and a stupid penalty.  I really like that Chimmer has found a home in Washington, I miss that infectious Chimera attitude, but I don't miss having to watch him every game.  But Johansen finally potted a goal, which was a beauty, Karlsson getting two contributed to an appropriate level of scoring for once.  The two goals at Pittsburgh were enough, but its awfully tough to win a bunch of NHL games if you are only scoring 2 goals a game.

The crowd was good last night.  Smallish, as one ought expect from a team that is just winning its first at home, but game competitors.  The crowd dealt with the flat play that allowed the Coyotes to climb back into the game, but got rolling when the scrums and hitting ramped up.  It's a funny thing about the C-B-J chant that has developed over the last few years.  That's something that just has to be earned, and it won't flow from the crowd unless the conditions on the ice merit the response.  So it was interesting to hear Johansen's comment about it, that the players had missed it.  As we have seen often so far this year, its a double edged sword, as an opponent scoring two goals in about 20 seconds will shut that flow off in a hurry.

Which leads me to a different sort of observation.  I really felt this in watching the Pittsburgh game.  The Jackets were up 2-0, on a hard earned, a 'we're just going to keep throwing scoring chances at you until we score' goal, and a lightening strike from Saad dashing down the slot (#wickedbackhandshot),  But even though the CBJ had the lead, you could tell that Pittsburgh was thinking that they were only going to need about 20 seconds to tie it up.  Last night the Jackets responded with more scoring, and were able to pull away.  But they couldn't do that against Pittsburgh.  And this will be the Jacket's life for some little while as the season progresses.  Teams are going to think they will fold late, and the Jackets are going to have to amply prove them wrong before they stop thinking that way.

I am finding Tortorella a fascinating character.  His post game conferences are always interesting to watch in order to hear how he talks about the game.  But he has brought a lot of structure to defending, which is starting to take hold, and the players are executing much better.  Of course losing Brandon Dubinsky to injured reserve because he had to do too many push-ups in practice is a negative, but .....

The Jackets win a couple in a back to back.  Good stuff.  More adversity ahead, for sure, that's the NHL season, but it also looks like this can be an entertaining season.  If this team can establish a winning tradition at home, something it has not done successfully for the last two years, it could be a really entertaining season.  And I think Coach Tortorella has his sights on that home record, which portends better things.  It is still very early in the season, but the hole is deep.


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