Monday, April 1, 2019

Winning The Game in Hand

Boy, what a week.  The CBJ have now won 5 games in a row, and are situated in the first wild card with 3 games remaining.  What a dramatic change from the western road trip, where they seemed unable to do anything right.  They righted the ship in the Vancouver game, and have been playing superlative hockey since then.  Their current style of play reminds me strongly of 'the streak' when they won 16 straight games.  During that time they were allowing LESS than 2 goals a game, an amazing feat.  At present, they appear to have recaptured that mentality, and if they can run it into the playoffs (not yet a done deal) they will be a handful.

I really didn't know a 8 days ago where this was all going.  Well, the wailing, the gnashing of teeth, and the rending of garments all ceased with the Vancouver game.  I whined at the goalies.  Bob dropped 3 shutouts in the last 8 days.  Yowza!  He looks very determined.  I am very happy for him.

I whined about Panarin.  He seems to have rediscovered what ever it was he misplaced, and has been playing increasingly effective hockey over the last week.  He is once again hard to take the puck from, and has been incredibly effective.  Props to the Breadman. 

The return of Nick Foligno to the team seemed to steady them.  And Torts may well have found 4 lines he will be comfortable rolling.  During 'the streak', Torts had 4 lines he just rolled.  He would come into the post game presser and say, Naw, we aren't looking for any particular matchup, we're just rolling our lines.  To go far in the playoffs, you need to have a fourth line that will dominate its match-ups.  The Nash, Foligno, and Dubinsky line is doing that, and Torts will throw them out against anyone.  This puts them in a very strong position.

Most importantly, they won their 'game in hand', which is when you have played one fewer games than the other guys.  A game in hand will help tie breakers, but ultimately will burn you if you don't win it.  They went into a trap game against Buffalo, on a back to back, and turned in a very solid performance.  The impact of the game in hand is shown in the standings, vaulting them up into WC1. 

Three games left.  They are all very important.  A tough Bruins game, and two trap games.  It's important to outwork the opposition in each of these games.  They may be able to do that.  This next week will tell us a lot.  More to come. 


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