Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Don't Make Wennberg Shoot

Tonight the Boston Bruins committed a strategic error by hauling down Alex Wennberg on a breakaway, and forcing him to make a penalty shot.  Stripped of anyone to pass to, the Swede buried the Jackets only goal, early in the first period.  Finally the game went to overtime, and the Bruins potted a sweet back door play in 3 on 3 to gain the extra point.

These are not the same Bruins as the last few years.  They have more flaws, but they are certainly in the playoff hunt, and they are certainly dangerous.  Their goal to tie it was a one on one play with Bergeron and Korpisalo, and the veteran won the contest.  But after that, the teams traded chances, and the Jackets did a good job of playing within themselves.  The Bruins have enough strengths to make you scramble, and they did that to the Jackets many times tonight.  The Jackets took a lot of holding penalties, some bogus, some not, which means they were trailing the play for a lot of the time tonight.  So a good game, against a good team, and we got a point.  This type of game has relevance in a playoff hunt, so is important experience for our very young players (Korpisalo, Wennberg, Karlsson, Rychel).  In the context of this years season, this was a great game, not too good, but not too bad.

Before I take a moment to comment on my comparative idleness, I want to comment first on the Nationwide Arena crowd, of which I am one (occasionally obnoxious, which is totally not my fault).  This time of year, in this season, the crowds can be very quiet.  It's what it is.  No booing of our players if things aren't going well, but a quiet patience. The beast slumbers quietly, waiting for a team to awaken it.  Or, if you are a fan for the opposition in our barn, and you want to start a cheer for your team.  That's the easiest way to awaken a crowd in Nationwide these days, but the time will come when that's not the case, and I do assure you that you want to make plans to experience that.  But, that is something for the future, not the present.  Week day games are about elbow room, and having the pleasure of watching an original six team square off against the Jackets.  Never forget how cool it is to be in the Eastern Conference.  We will make our mark, but that lies in the future.

So, I feel bad for the long time between posts, but that is a bit of writer's block, and a bit of confusion about what it is we are actually seeing.  Not that I am a particularly astute reporter of that, I'd refer you to Jeff Little over on the Jackets Cannon for that.  I suppose I'm probably on the level of the less astute fan, but experienced, who is trying to understand what they are seeing.  And this is a weird year for that.  Which is a lot coming from me, because I have seen Nicky Zherdev skate through the barn without a care in the world, and that is plenty weird.  But I digress, as is common.

So here is the weird thing about this recent run of good play.  Earlier in the year I was concerned that we were wasting an outright terrible year on the first year in which the draft order is determined by a lottery for the top 3 picks.  Of all the years to suck unexpectedly, and be in 30th place only to lose the lottery was going to be a lot to take.

However, we are not in 30th place any more.  Our recent streak of decent play (thank you Mr. Korpisalo) have raised us in the non-playoff standings, and all we are sacrificing is the number of balls we had in the lottery.  Since having the most number of balls in the lottery has never served us well in the past, it is a poor model for future success.  However, it is certain that Edmonton cannot win all three of the lottery picks, and all we need is one of them this year.  So.  Play to win, and to develop our young guys is a theme that works particularly well with the draft format this year.

The Jackets are belatedly playing competitive hockey now.  The question becomes, can they carry it over to next year?  History says no.  But Tortorella is our coach now, and he can be scary.  Like making up the training camp schedule while he is in the hospital with broken rib scary.  Like, serving notice this year what camp will be like scary.  I tell ya, I am definitely warming to the guy.

John Tortorella has experienced abject failure recently.  He views this experience as an opportunity, and all that failure did was provide perspective to a thoughtful guy (NOT my impression of him from afar).  I think John Tortorella will be here for awhile.  Now I've been wrong, before, and I will be wrong again, but that's my opinion.  Let's review our last few Coaches from the lens of 'might win a Stanley Cup if things break right, and you have the players to do it'.  Hitch, yeah, could be.  Arniel?  Nyet.  Richards?  Maybe, but that is pretty hopeful.  No real sign it was going to happen.  Torts?  Well, he's done it before.  He seems to be centered at this time of his career.  I've seen worse bets....


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