Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Game 33/Calgary: My Take

The rested Columbus Blue Jackets got to take advantage of the road-weary Calgary Flames tonight at Nationwide Arena to the tune of a 3-1 win in regulation.

The two points in the standings for the CBJ represents the first regulation win since December 11's 3-1 win over the New York Rangers.

The game itself was competitive, highlighted by nice, tough goals by Jake Voracek and Jared Boll - not to mention another strong effort from Mathieu Garon in net.  Calgary tried to muster a little gusto in the second and third, but it was pretty much all CBJ tonight.

In fact, I'll go as far as to say that it could have been a lot worse for the Flames - if not for the Blue Jackets.

Many years before moving to Ohio, I pretended to be a bit of a golfer.  It was for strictly professional purposes, and I was quite bad.  But there was a point in my play when I went from "quite bad" to "OMG dreadful."  I remember it well.  It was all in my head.  I was trying to hard, pressing too much, overthinking.  In the end, it took some time away from the Game That Was Invented to Frustrate Angry Scottish Guys to get what little groove I had back.

It seems like the Blue Jackets are in the same spot, except their ceiling is a helluva lot higher than mine.  They don't get the benefit of a few weeks off right now (the longest reprieve between now and the All-Star break is two days), so they're fighting it all the way to the win.  The game may have been against Calgary, but it was really against themselves.

Until the CBJ get back to that "happy place" (as opposed to the dreaded "safe place") where the puck bounces along with them, where the chemistry gels, where the shots start falling...it'll probably be a lot of games like this.  Exciting, yes...frustrating, at least in parts...and sometimes victorious.

It won't matter who the Columbus Blue Jackets are playing, because the toughest opponent that they are facing is themselves.

I neglected to mention the last 8-game sequence (Games 25 through 32) and how the CBJ have done against a projected 96-point playoff pace. In those games, the CBJ got wins against Dallas and the Rangers - with overtime losses to Calgary and Vancouver.  That makes 6 points - not dreadful in the big picture, but 3 points behind the minimum needed to keep on playoff pace.  Consider those 3 points needed to be made up somewhere else down the line.

So let's recap:

  • Games 1-8: 10 points
  • Games 9-16: 10 points
  • Games 17-24: 9 points
  • Games 25-32: 6 points

The Blue Jackets need to hit 10 points on six occasions, and 9 points on four occasions, to hit 96.  Despite all the teeth-gnashing, all is not lost.  But the Jackets have lost ground against what I consider to be playoff pace, and they have to find their games quickly to get back in the hunt.

NEXT UP: The (3rd in the West, with 42 points to Columbus' 37) Vancouver Canucks roll into town on Thursday night for the last game before Christmas.  It's worth noting that the game at Nationwide will be the second of a back-to-back for the 'nucks that starts with what surely will be a hard-fought game at Joe Louis Arena against the Wings.  Tickets for the CBJ-Vancouver game can be had as cheaply as $15 each.  After all the public efforts to trade tickets, my Christmas plans have fallen apart...so I'll be there in person.  Can't wait to see the Jackets give the business to The Flying Sedin Brothers!

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