Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Game 65/St. Louis: My Take

The Columbus Blue Jackets completed perhaps their most crucial road trip of the season - 5 games going through Western Conference rivals Nashville, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and St. Louis - with a 5-4 shootout loss to the Blues last night.

The Blue Jackets emerged from the road trip with a 0-3-2 record.  When any rule of thumb suggests that a ".500" record on a road trip is acceptable, the Blue Jackets didn't come close to the five standings point bar.  They ended up with just two points. If you follow my "Games that matter" series, you know how big the playoff hurdle has become.  The CBJ have not just been cemented in their standings position (12th) but now are starting to lose traction in the number of points needed to simply get into 8th place in the West.

That's not to take away from what was perhaps one of the more fascinating games in recent memory, and by far the oddest single period in memory.  Period.

The boxscore alone for the first period was a hoot.  Get this:
  • GOAL 01:24 - STL - Patrik Berglund (18) Slap Shot - Assists: none (Oh crap, here we go.)
  • PENALTY 01:43 - STL - Chris Stewart : Fighting (maj) - 5 min
  • PENALTY 01:43 - CBJ - Derek Dorsett : Fighting (maj) - 5 min (Dorse goes for the game-changer fight yet loses badly)
  • PENALTY 01:48 - STL - Cam Janssen : Fighting (maj) - 5 min
  • PENALTY 01:48 - CBJ - Jared Boll : Fighting (maj) - 5 min (Boll dives in 5 seconds later and performs MUCH better than Dorsett)
  • PENALTY 02:40 - STL - David Backes : Roughing - 2 min
  • PENALTY 02:40 - CBJ - Craig Rivet : Roughing - 2 min (Rivet pounds Backes after Backes' hit sends Russell to the locker room for treatment)
  • GOAL 06:46 - CBJ - Jakub Voracek (13) Wrist Shot - Assists: R. Nash (28) (Nash all but scores the goal himself.  Brilliance on ice.  And that's because He's Rick Nash...And You're Not.)
  • GOAL 07:32 - CBJ - Matt Calvert (11) Slap Shot - Assists: R. Umberger (29) & K. Russell (16) (What is is with this kid?  Can he NOT score?  Oh, did you see that Russell was already back on the ice?)
  • PENALTY 10:05 - STL - Ian Cole : Holding - 2 min
  • GOAL 10:10 - CBJ - PPG - Fedor Tyutin (6) Wrist Shot - Assists: G. Clitsome (12) & A. Vermette (22) (That's right, a wrister from Fedor makes the Blues pay.  Go figure.  Perhaps it was that Tyutin scored that got Blues starting goalie run out of the net in favor of man-monster Ben Bishop.)
  • PENALTY 11:48 - CBJ - Kris Russell : Holding - 2 min
  • GOAL 12:42 - STL - PPG - Andy McDonald (15) Wrist Shot - Assists: C. Stewart (20) &P. Berglund (26) (Oops.)
  • PENALTY 12:52 - CBJ - Rick Nash : Tripping - 2 min
  • GOAL 13:57 - STL - PPG - TJ Oshie (7) Tip-In - Assists: M. D'Agostini (16) & D. Backes (24) (Double oops.  There goes the two-goal lead.)
  • Shots on goal in the 1st: St. Louis 16, CBJ 8.  
And with that, we were back to where we started...all knotted up.  Of course, there were 28 minutes of penalties and countless on-ice minutes spent in fights, skirmishes, etc.  Madness.

All told, the 1st period lasted roughly an hour.  Whew.  

The rest of regulation and overtime portions of the game was quite tame by comparison.  Goals swapped in the 2nd, no goals in the 3rd and only a couple penalties.  (One, by the Blues' Ryan Reeves in the 2nd, was a 10-minute misconduct...certainly worthy of a golf clap at minimum.)

And then we hit the shootout.  I'm not sure I've ever seen the wheels so completely come off Steve Mason as in that shootout.  Mason gave up goals to T.J. Oshie, Andy McDonald and Alexander Steen with a five-hole so wide that it's inspired a line of Twitter jokes:
  • TMZ is reporting that Charlie Sheen and both of his girlfriends were found passed out in #Masons5Hole last night.
  • BREAKING NEWS: NASA is reporting that a previously undiscovered planet has been found in #Masons5hole 
  • The Grand Canyon. #ThingsBiggerThanMasons5Hole 
  • (In response to the mention about the Grand Canyon) Are you sure they were jumping voluntarily? Maybe they were helplessly being sucked into the vortex created by #Masons5Hole.
  • Fill it up with water and have a pool party. #ThingsToDoWithMasons5Hole 
(Credit where credit is due...most of those jokes belong to my blogging buddy, Greg May of Full Mental Jackets.)

Yeah, it was that brutal.  No way to sugar coat it.  Mason's mile-wide five-hole cost the CBJ that badly-needed extra standings point.

I'd say, "Thank God that roadie is over," except that the Blue Jackets literally are running out of games to make up ground.  It'll take something just this side of a miracle now to make the playoffs.

One concluding point: Fox Sports Ohio's Ray Crawford, in the post-game show, asserted not once but at least twice that Rick Nash scored his 30th goal of the season last night.  This of course was factually incorrect both times he said it.  The only "oops" that rivals Crawford's was FSO's lining up CBJ fan-hated T.J. Oshie for the post-game interview.  Please, Fox Sports, here's my knife.  Twist it a little harder.  No please, go ahead...

NEXT UP:  Tomorrow night, the silliness against the Blues wraps up for the 2010-2011 season at 7PM at Nationwide.  Tickets are (not surprisingly) plentiful and cheap.  I strongly suggest watching "Goonies" tonight in preparation.  

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