Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Game 43/Phoenix: My Take

Finally home after a winless, four-game road trip, the Columbus Blue Jackets failed to capitalize at Nationwide Arena and lost, 4-3, in regulation to the Phoenix Coyotes.

The callups once again made their mark.  Matt Calvert played in his second straight game (Surely, no insult to those who were on the roster on opening day...) and drew a critical holding call in the waning minutes of the game.  Grant Clitsome, fresh off the plane from Springfield, swapped in for the maddening Anton Stralman...and was refreshingly competent.  Not fantastic, but simply competent.

Not surprisingly, simple competence on defense kept the Blue Jackets in the game longer than they had been during the entire road trip.  Sadly, the lack of scoring acumen and special teams ineptitude - a blown 5-on-3, a short-handed goal allowed - let the team down once again.   Their fast (2-0 at the end of the 1st period) start fizzled out with three unanswered Phoenix goals to close out the game.

Still, the impact of Calvert and Clitsome can't be overlooked.  They're working hard and are hungry...and while they're not the world-class players that the Blue Jackets probably need to make a move in this crazy Western Conference, they are (at least to this blogger) putting some of their one-way contracted peers to shame.  This speaks to the culture of complacency that's infected the locker room.

The clock's ticking on this season, Mr. Howson.  You may say that the answers to the team's problems are in the locker room, but the evidence is not on your side with this one.

NEXT UP: Friday and Saturday is another home-and-home with (gulp) Detroit.

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