|It Seems You Have a Problem With Authority, Mr. Anderson...|
The Blue Jackets played a very, very solid first period, dominating the puck, and firing shots from all over, but only lead 1-0 at the end of one period. Many times I have seen the opposing team rally in the second and take control of the game from that situation. And indeed, Tampa Bay came out with a far better effort in the second period, dominating stretches of play. But at the end of the day, the Jackets scored two more goals in the period to go into the third period leading 3-0. Tampa Bay was doing an excellent job of containing our top lines, but they simply had no answer for Josh Anderson, Scott Hartnell, and Bill Karlsson on the 'fourth' line(Ed. Note: third line), and that line just shredded Tampa. The entire line made up the three stars in the arena, with first, second, and third stars respectively.
Josh Anderson was a dominant force all night, skating fast and playing physically, and getting to the front of the net. And Tampa didn't really have an answer for that line, especially on the road. Woof. Shades of Derek MacKenzie! This is how Josh Anderson played in the AHL playoffs last year, just a load to handle. It's really nice to see him taking that to the next level. But ever since the CBJ let MacKenzie walk, they have been looking for a fourth line like this.
Surprisingly, to the national media, the Jackets "made no changes", but last year the fourth line was Gregory Campbell, Jared Boll, and Rene Bourque. This year its William Karlsson, Josh Anderson, and Scott Hartnell. (Ed. Note: I was a little giddy last night. The fourth line is Sedlak, Gagne, and Hanikainen) And there could not be a greater contrast, with this year's bunch tilting towards the more deadly on the ice. I think Anderson has more goals now than the fourth line scored all of last year, and then you throw in significant contributions from Karlsson and Hartnell.
Make no mistake, Tampa came to play today, and effectively neutralized the top few lines tonight. But the bottom two lines overwhelmed their match-ups, and won the game. That's a picture of sustainability in the NHL.
For me, it is highly gratifying to see the significant contributions of the young Lake Erie Monsters players, Werenski, Sedlak, and Anderson. It is really awesome to think that the Cleveland Monsters have more to contribute to the parent club down the stretch, as there is a lot of hockey left to play.
I haven't been able to really follow the Monsters this year. As a solo blogger, its asking a lot to cover two teams, though I gather the start has not been strong. Given the amount of change the team experienced, especially the loss of Coach Bednar (Congratulations on the Colorado gig!!), one would expect that things would start slowly. A lot of adjustment to new conditions on the agenda there, especially with disappointed players joining the roster, along with the injuries (e.g. Heatherington). So the slow start probably should be expected, even if it is not the desired state. But as the players and the group gather themselves, there is a real prospect that they can contribute measurably to the parent club as this season moves along. It's all good.
The Jackets did not sneak up on Tampa tonight, but still won the game in convincing fashion. Well done lads, well done indeed! The Jackets just tweeted that it was the best November in franchise history. That kind of thing leaves a glow, I don't care who you are. Lots of hockey left to play, but if your fourth line is going to dominate playoff teams, you probably have a sustainable model. Just sayin'.