Tuesday, November 15, 2011

DBJ's 5 Thoughts on Game 17: Minnesota

Minnesota 4 - Columbus 2
3-13-1, 5th in Central Division, 15th in Western Conference
The reasonably well-rested Columbus Blue Jackets welcomed the road weary Minnesota Wild into Nationwide Arena tonight and - ever the gracious hosts - lost to the Northwest Division leaders, 4-2, in regulation.

1. As mentioned the other day, this was an important "measuring stick" game... to see if this squad (NOW THAT THEY'RE HEALTHY!) would finally live up to the expectations that the fanbase had throughout training camp.  Suffice to say, they didn't register too high on the hype-meter.  I think we're in for a very long season.

If anyone can come up with a reasonable explanation why
the Blue Jackets' top line isn't getting it done, I'm all ears.
2. The "All Star Ballot Line" of Rick Nash, Jeff Carter and R. J. Umberger all registered -2 in the plus/minus on the night, worst on the team in this particular game.  And rightfully so.  While they registered some shots (6 for Nash, 3 for Umberger, 2 for Carter), they played some of the most uninspired hockey I've seen in a while.  The offense was weak at best, the defense was no better.  Lest you think I am being overly harsh, remember this: This line represents 26.1 percent of the entire Columbus Blue Jackets payroll.  The Blue Jackets literally cannot afford for this line to not produce anything.  They need to score, and score lots.  They need to play in a manner that wins games.  Instead, they did not score and instead played in a manner that helped lose the game.

2a. You would think that they would be embarrassed that, for effort and goal production, they are being outplayed by Mark Letestu, who is pulling in a cool $625,000 this season.  That's just under 1% of the CBJ payroll.

3. Steve Mason didn't play horribly, but that third goal by "The Laughing Cal" Clutterbuck was a tough one.

4. In the interest of being fair, the first period really was quite good.  They had plenty of shots, limited Minnesota on shots, got two goals and pretty much dominated the play.  Mason was playing within himself, and that generally yields positive results (especially when he gets a shred of defensive help).  Minnesota woke up in the intermission, put together about 10 minutes of inspired play in the second, then locked down in the third.  The CBJ had nothing to answer when Minnesota got their act together.

4a. I admire how teams can shut down a game via a solid trapping defense and hold a lead through to the end.  It's a shame the CBJ can't do that.

5. I should have known that this game was going to be a rough one.  I mean, look at the cover of tonight's program, featuring now-St. Louis Blues defenseman Kris Russell:

NEXT UP: Thursday night at 7PM in the Gahhhhhh-den against the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins, who are riding a six-game winning streak.  No biggie.


  1. To be fair, the 2nd line did look pretty good. The 2nd goal was NICE. Little mentioned was RyJo shielding the Wild defenseman so the shot went in unmolested, sorta looking like the dozens of goals scored against us this year.

  2. I know Vermy hasn't done much scoring, and I like Umby. But I think Umby and Vermy should switch places. Put Verm on the 1st line and Umby on the 3rd. I just don't know what to say anymore. This is getting rough! The first line looked pretty bad last night. Not one of them looked like they were really trying and I saw most of them sliding along behind play with little to no effort! Maybe we should just bench them all and bring up Atkinson and Mayorov since the $$$ isn't doing anything! I will say that I think we got a good trade out of Nikitin. It'll be another tough game on Thursday. Probably going to need some alcohol and lots of it.

  3. Kinda funny but I took away a very different view of our top lines effort. In terms of back checking, terrible. But in the third they were attacking towards our seats and you could see they really wanted it. But I think its the new pistol grip sticks. At least they are squeezing them hard enough to leave that kind of indent. But I saw more life out of RJ in the third than I have seen all year.

  4. Anon: Good point. I thought that 2a. touched on that, but perhaps I need to be more explicit. The second line - you know, the "shield The Johan from the team's core" line - played pretty well.

    JCG: At first blush, I agree. However, I don't see much in the two players' bodies of work for the season that distinguishes one from the other. OK, faceoffs are an exception, as Vermette is better than Umberger. Does that make a difference, seeing as Vermette currently is on the Pahlsson line?

    Gallos: That is very possible, as we were at opposite ends of the arena last night.


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