Friday, February 25, 2011

Game 60/Phoenix: My Take

The Columbus Blue Jackets left for a week-long road trip on the right foot, dispatching with the Phoenix Coyotes, 5-3, in front of nearly 17,000 fans at Nationwide Arena.

The obvious big story is that rookie Matt Calvert, in his 20th NHL game, dropped a natural hat trick on Phoenix goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.  That makes 9 goals in 20 games.  What more needs be said?  How about this picture...instead of a thousand words:

Hats rained onto the ice for minutes after Matt Calvert scored his third goal.
(Photo from the Columbus Blue Jackets)

Beyond that, a couple comparatively minor points:
  • Rick Nash was relatively quiet.  He can take over games where he needs to...just didn't need to tonight.
  • Jared Boll was baited into fighting at least twice tonight and didn't bite.  Terrific restraint when the team is in control of the game.  (Yet he also was protected by the likes of Chris Clark and Ethan Moreau...perhaps an even more telling statement...)
This was a really nice win...a hockey party in front of a huge crowd.  The fans were doing the wave, having a great time.  The franchise NEEDS this type of win.  Big wins, in style, in front of big crowds.  Stuff like this snowballs, and it couldn't happen at a better time for the Columbus Blue Jackets as they embark on their somewhat unlikely playoff run.

A little while ago, I suggested that the fantastic recent run by the Blue Jackets was largely at the expense of teams that were undergoing recent slumps (at least in their last 10 games).  I also suggested that, if the CBJ were going to jump to the playoffs, they would need to boost their records against winning teams - those that had records over .500 in their last 10 games.  

This win was exactly what I was talking about.  They weathered an early storm by the 'yotes, giving up the (requisite?) first two goals.  They stormed back, took control of the game and never let up.  Toss in a handful of this type of game between now and the end of the regular season, and you'll see your Columbus Blue Jackets playing well into April, if not longer.  

Let's give the last word to tonight's hattie scorer...

NEXT UP: A five-game road trip kicks off on Sunday afternoon in Nashville.  Surely the Predators will remember the third-period thrashing that the Blue Jackets applied this week.  Enjoy the ride, everyone...

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