Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Game 50/Chicago: My Take

A staggering 12,568 people risked life and limb in the midst of a still-ongoing (as I type) ice storm to cheer on the Columbus Blue Jackets as they came out of the All-Star break in the unofficial start to the "second half" of the season.  Go figure...St. Louis postpones their game because of bad weather, and Columbus has one of the best home turnouts of 2010-11.

The Blue Jackets rewarded their somewhat insane fanbase with an equally staggering loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, 7-4, at Nationwide Arena.

Let's quickly cover the CBJ game and then get to the important stuff.

Offensively, either the ice was for crap or the CBJ had zero rhythm.  That puck was bouncing more than a Mexican jumping bean on them.  (I'm guessing it was the rhythm problem, as Chicago didn't seem to have half the problem with puck control that Columbus had.)  Their inability to control the puck, combined with a propensity to set up shots rather than just let 'er rip, gave Chicago the all-important split-seconds needed to set up on defense.  Way too many potential shots were intercepted as a result.  Note that the prettiest two goals of the night for Columbus - Derek Dorsett's opening goal and Matt Calvert's breakaway - did not involve settling the puck down.  They took the shot, and the puck went past Marty Turco.

Defensively, that team is horrible.  Sure, Steve Mason gave up 5 goals in two periods.  Once again, however, he was totally hung out to dry all too often by a defense that was beyond bad.  Add to that the fact that the defense was challenged to keep the puck in their own zone as well, not to mention that their occasional offensive breakaways led to poor/no shots and defensemen way out of position.  If any CBJ unit needs a thorough scrubbing during the offseason, it's the defense.

Now for the really important stuff:  I was a guest of Full Mental Jackets' Greg May in section 109 tonight, his birthday gift to me upon my reaching my 40th year on this earth.  After congratulating each other for being insane enough to go out in the mess that was the ice storm, we got to the task at hand: Continuing the investigation of "Drinks On Goal" that he started on his blog.  We had an uproariously good time, but enough about us.  Let's look at the goalies.

After a terrific start to the season, it's clear that Steve Mason has lost his edge in terms of drinking during gametime.  That boy maybe hit the bottle twice? three times? during the second period when he was right in front of us.  In fact, I'd suggest that his lack of hydration may have had something to do with his sluggish play.  Nevertheless, I was able to grab a shot of Mase taking a slug on my cell phone.

Look at that guy.  Standing tall with that 6'4" frame.  Dude drinks like a champ...didn't even bother to take the blocker off to grab his Flavor of the Night.  Problem was, he just couldn't hit the bottle enough.  I only hope that the laying off the drinking wasn't one of goaltending coach Dave Rook's mind games.  It's bad enough that Rook keeps calling Mase out in the media...what if he's telling Mase, "Less drinkee, more goalie"?  Regardless, this lack of Beverage Mojo clearly is keeping poor Mase down.

If Mase wants a role model in terms of great Gameday Bottle Management, he should look no further than Marty Turco.  Turco's a grizzled veteran, one who has seen enough hockey (and enough bottles on top of his net) that he knows precisely when that splash of artificial fruity goodness is needed.

Here's a snapshot of Turco grabbing the bottle.  Note the raised hand, the arched neck.  Turco's digging deep during this stoppage in play...getting every last chug while the scantily-clad ice girls prance around with their shovels.  This is a no-nonsense professional with an all-business attitude.

In fact, I was so impressed with Turco's style that I even grabbed a third period swig on video.  Check out this champ in action:

What incredible form, what amazing focus and determination.  And to think he's only a backup...that's what championship-level organizational depth can bring you.  

My only knock on Turco was that he went to the bench all too often for his drinking.  Clearly, the guy knew this game was his (despite the sections 108-110 fans shouting, "Turco!  You suck!" incessantly throughout the first and third periods...which at one point was followed by a young girl stating, "Yes, Turco DOES suck" in a matter of fact manner).  He must've been asking himself, why drain the net bottle?  Greg and I were hoping that he would stay in that crease and work that bottle for the benefit of the crowd, but he was such a tease to the Columbus fans.  

Sadly, I couldn't get a good look at Mathieu Garon because his only period was on the opposite side of the rink.  Greg tells me that it didn't really matter, as Garon is drier than a saguaro cactus in August heat.  The man looks at his bottle as a feng shui object and not a provider of refreshment and nourishment.  Very disappointing.

Lest you think that this post is goofy, let me remind you: The Columbus Blue Jackets gave up seven goals tonight.  I'll take my humor any way I can get it under those circumstances, thank you...

NEXT UP: Friday night in Detroit.


  1. I need to see this more often. Drinks to performance ratio.

    Also, yeah, we f***ing sucked.

  2. I would just like to say that it was truly and honor and a privilege to attend a game with The Dark Blue Jacket. He is a scholar and a gentleman. Although I would have much rather witnessed a victory with DBJ instead of an epic meltdown, I had an incredible time. It was especially entertaining to watch him, camera/phone in hand, anticipate when the goalies were going to hit the bottle. Good times!

  3. Indeed, it was a great time despite the on-ice atrocity. My readers could only be so lucky as to get seats next to you, Greg.

    In addition, we got to meet Mr. and Mrs. Gallos - another solid hockey couple with nothing but passion and love for their home team. All in all, a fine evening despite the crap-bag weather.

    Only significant regret of the night: I made the strategic error of going for the Turco bottle video right as game ops was showing R.J. Umberger destroy Brent Seabrook. You were going nuts about the great hit, and I was all, "I got 5 seconds of Turco taking a swig!" That's a five-minute major in my book, and I serve it with shame heaped upon my shoulders.

    (Still, it was a great night. Let's try to get another game in before the end of the season!)


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