Sunday, December 11, 2016

Uncharted Territory; Jackets Pelt Isles with JD's Bricks

Sedlak scores his second in game after scoring his first!
In the third period of a tied hockey game, the Columbus Blue Jackets used bricks provided by Jarmo and JD to pull away from their Metro Conference challenger New York Islanders.  Draft picks Lucas Sedlak and Josh Anderson scored, supported by produce from trades, Brandon Saad and Seth Jones.  This rapidly changed a tied game to a 6-2 thumping, to allow the Jackets to keep pace with the streaking Flyers, Penguins, and Rangers.

Currently the Jackets sit fourth overall in the NHL, and still sitting third in the Metro, with an outstanding 17-5-4 record.  Props to the players, coaches, and management for these achievements.  It's a good time to be a Jackets fan.

The Islanders came into this game on a roll, like all Metro Conference teams, scored first, and answered the Jackets comeback in the second to tie the game at 2-2.  Then the third period, where Josh Anderson, coming in off the bench, wades into a slap shot to beat Halak and give the Jackets a lead.  A relentless forecheck resulted in more goals, and the Jackets took control of the game in the third.

One of the things I really liked about the game was seeing the building pretty full.  Also, there was a ripple of the thunderous cheering that can happen in Nationwide, like the distant echo of an approaching summer thunderstorm.  It was good to hear, but there is more there from this fan base.   But it was really nice to see the Jackets take control of the game from a powerful opponent.  And I am really pleased with that.

Gosh I just can't get the vision of Josh Anderson galloping across the blue line to intercept that pass and charge in on Halak.  That goal started an avalanche of Blue Jackets pressure that yielded Saad's goal, and later Sedlak's.

This is uncharted territory for our team, fourth overall in the NHL standings, and locked in a race with other Metro teams that refuse to lose.  Someone is going to falter in this run, and I have to wonder if some of Tortorella's "innovations", such as no game day skate, will keep the Jackets stronger as we approach the grinding part of the season.

Past Blue Jackets teams have faltered at this point in the season.  Certainly this team is likely to experience a period of adversity. As is likely for all the other teams in the Metro.  There is a lot of hockey left to be played, but the Jackets seem to be managing the escalation of the level of play that comes with December.  Two more big bumps to go, January and the trade deadline.

The thing that is encouraging to me is that two of the most impactful players, Seth Jones and Zach Werenski are still learning, and that there is a lot of upside to their game yet that they have to find.  Seth Jones has the capability to take a game over, but I think he is just realizing that, and finding ways to fit that into his game.  So more to come on that front.

Teams have also seemed to zero in on trying to challenge Marcus Nutivaara and Ryan Murray (on the backhand) in hopes of putting pressure on the Jacket's D-Corps, but that tactic has seemed to open up space for Jack Johnson and David Savard, and they are finding ways to make life tough on the opposing teams.

Four points out of a weekend back to back.  Sweet.  Well done Jackets!  Out west now, for one of those road trips to the western edges of Canada.  Late nights, but there should be some good hockey.

That game left a glow for me, and a lot of fans last night.  I've seen these guys lose before, I have my head around that.  But it is pleasing to see them win one of those Saturday night tilts in front of a big crowd.  And to finish it in such a big way.  It's a good time to be a Jackets fan.


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