Saturday, November 20, 2010

Game 17/Anaheim: My Take

The Columbus Blue Jackets stared down the grim face of history on Friday night, never giving in (or giving up) against a tenacious Anaheim Ducks squad at the Honda Center.  The Blue Jackets won, 4-3, marking their first Friday win of the season.

Or was it Saturday?  I mean, the victory wasn't sealed until after midnight Columbus time.  Curse these West Coast trips...

Anyway, onto the game.  It seems like only yesterday that I wrote this:
All the CBJ will do is come into your house, track mud onto the carpet, empty your fridge, eat your chips, turn on all the lights...and send your fans home unhappy. 
That's what the Columbus Blue Jackets do this year.
And again, it rings true.  Those plucky Blue Jackets just don't seem to realize that they're supposed to lose their way through these West Coast trips, that it's the Los Angeleses and San Joses and Vancouvers who are supposed to threaten the Detroit/Chicago (but certainly not the rest of the Central Division) hegemony in the West.  This crystallized for me in the final 1-2 seconds of the game, where Corey Perry realized that his team was going to lose to Columbus and, in a fit of exasperation, hauled off and sucker-punched Antoine Vermette.
Luckily, the full-fledged on-ice square dance was avoided.  And Perry appears to have hurt himself (physically, as we have no idea what the league offices will do to him from a disciplinary perspective) in the process.  Shame.  Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

Sez Mase: Nothing this way shall pass. (Flickr photo by Dylan Moody)
The undisputed star of the game was Steve Mason.  Anytime you turn away 47 of 50 shots (that's a smooth .940 save percentage, kiddos), you're doing something really right.  I only got to see the last two periods due to being in class - and engaging in post-class banter at a local establishment - but from what I could see, Mase is making an effort to push those pucks to the side as opposed to covering them up.  Perhaps the coaching staff isn't interested in a parade of own-zone faceoffs.  Regardless, those side "swipes" are feeding our defensemen, which ignites the still-in process fast break offense.

The other notable player in my book was Mike Commodore.  In his second game back, Commie was Commie - but with a bit of a scoring touch!  Yup, Mike got a goal and an assist on the night.  He also was up there in minutes at 20:40, only behind Marc Methot and Rusty Klesla.

Mase and Commie: Two guys who had very good games
But it goes further: Late in the game, Fox Sports Ohio gave us a shot of the boys on the bench, and the only one yapping it up with his fellow players was Commie.  Number 22's been energized on the ice, visibly engaged and seemingly doing just about everything asked of him.  This got me thinking...the Blue Jackets have had a recent habit of looking outside the organization for "veteran leadership" in acquiring Chris Clark and Ethan Moreau, but perhaps the untapped veteran leader talent was our own Mike Commodore.

Random thought: The Coaching Genius Move of the Year thus far is Scott Arniel's decision to promote Derick Brassard and Jake Voracek to the top line with Rick Nash when, by all accounts, at least Brass deserved to be demoted.  This first line is something special to watch - and it's getting more and more productive on the scoresheet.

So here we are, two of the three-game "murderer's row" road trip under our belt.  I was hoping/praying for 3 points out of the entire trip, and the CBJ already have 4 (while not giving the other side anything, seeing as both wins were in regulation....3-point games, pshaw!).  This is rather remarkable, and hopefully it will keep snowballing all the way back to Nationwide Arena this coming week.  The guys need some strong wins like they've had in SoCal in front of the home crowds to re-energize the fanbase in Central Ohio.  Don't get me wrong, I'll take a win wherever it happens...but nice looking wins after all but the hardcore fans have gone to bed have a muted spillover effect, especially as fewer and fewer people read the newspaper these days.

NEXT UP: The CBJ train keeps a-rolling all the way up to San Jose for a visit to the Shark Tank, which has been a house of horrors for Columbus.  If I understand correctly, it looks like Mathieu Garon will get the start in goal.  This works out perfectly for Steve Mason's growing confidence - he takes the night off simply because it's the second game in two days and not because he's slumping his way out of the roadie.  I have no illusions about this game, it's going to be hard.  Especially as the second game in two night.  San Jose is tied with Columbus at 22 standings points, and they still have loads of talent.


  1. I think you nailed it with Mase. His problem for a long time has been giving up rebounds, but this year it feels like he's finally learned how to control them. I'd love to see some consistency out of our D-men, but I like the attitude and hard-nosed approach. If we can get the power-play up to speed we're going to be an even TOUGHER team to beat too!

  2. That was a really good win. They came from behind (though they weren't behind long) and battled their way to the win. Need to repeat that tonight. Funny thing about Commie. He is slow, no doubt, but he is pretty sure (except for those late 3rd period rim arounds that never cleared). I think he likes having the offensive leash removed. So its that veteran coolness he uses to make the right move that stands out to me. You can skate fast, move the puck fast, but you end up needing to do something smart with it (see re: Chimera, Jason). He just doesn't look out of place. Awesome game. Now gotta rally back for another one.

  3. Commentary - The Columbus Sucks edition
    Calgary lights up Chicago 7-2. But we suck cause we let Calgary blow us out.
    Colorado beats NY Rangers 5-1. Everyone knows that the Rangers don't suck, but we do. Watching things going on around the league, I am starting to feel better about some of our blow out losses. That stuff is happening to everyone this year.


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