Saturday, January 26, 2013

Morgan's Six-Pack for Game 5: The Chicago Blackhawks

Columbus Blue Jackets 2 - Chicago Blackhawks 3
1-3-1, 5th in Central Division, 12th in Western Conference
 The Blue Jackets returned to the familiar confines of Nationwide Arena after dropping a pair of games in the Mountain Time Zone by a combined score of 9-1.  The Blackhawks rode into Nationwide Arena as the league's first 4-0 team, playing 10 out of their first 12 games on the road.  The sellout crowd of 18,381 at Nationwide Arena was certainly much more partisan than the home opener on Monday, setting the stage for a game that CBJ fans will talk about for quite some time.  I'm just going to say it, This team confuses the heck out of me.  This write up is not really a "This Bud is for you" 6-pack, but more of a six-pack of discussion points of the game.

CBJ therapy

1. My first beer goes to today's date - January 26th, 2013.  Today is Wayne Gretzky's 52 birthday, CBJ 01A defenseman Ryan Cooney's 12th birthday, and the NHL All-Star game was scheduled to be played in Columbus today.  Yep, today was that day.  #HockeyIsBack (I hope you all picked up on my sarcasm with that hashtag).  I should be tweeting pictures from a post-game private party, but I'm not...

2.  My second beer goes to Nick Foligno, the usual suspect.  By my count, Nick Foligno was called for 7 goaltender interference calls last season, and one already this year.  While the disallowing the goal was possibly the worst piece of officiating in the NHL so far this season, I can't help the feeling that anytime usual suspect Nick Foligno is around the netminder, he's guilty until proven innocent.  He did enter the crease unnecessarily (albeit it ever so slightly), but Crawford's glove BARELY comes into contact with Foligno and the goal is waved off on the spot.  The Jackets made it tougher on themselves to recover from this officiating gaffe in the third period squandering a key powerplay opportunity.  I know blowing a crucial PP opportunity in the third doesn't rile up twitter like a disallowed goal, but the Jackets had every opportuninty to get that one back.  It's also worth noting that Brassard was on the point for that PP goal that was disallowed, which leads me to my next beer...

3.  The CBJ defensive corps.  I really don't know what to think anymore.  They hold the Hawks to 8 shots in the 1st period .  Also, like in the Detroit game, Columbus completely locked down the middle of the ice in the neutral zone forcing the more skilled opponent to enter the offensive zone wide.  They executed this plan well tonight.  Then the brain farts happen:  Aucoin and Moore BOTH loose sight of Jonathan "Camel" Toewes as Letestu can't clear the zone.  Bolland doesn't score his rebound goal if Tyutin hits the net with his WTF point shot (and if Kane doesn't treat Aucoin like an orange cone along the left boards).  The defensive corp is inconsistent, and each pair takes turns disappearing or underacheiving each night.  The Blue Jackets drinking game has one rule, "everytime a Jackets defensemen takes a shot and misses the net."  ugh.

4.  My fourth beer goes to organic chemistry - I know some of my cohorts on this blog feel as if the forward lines don't have any chemistry.  If by chemistry they mean the forwards aren't swirling and swooping into the offensive zone as if weaving a tapestry of 300 team goals, then they will be waiting a long time for the chemistry to form - this is the Blue Jackets, not the late 80's NHL.  This team can't get cute with the puck - like when Anisimov dropped the puck to Dorsett in the high slot during Monday night's game against the wings, which caused me to spray beer out of my nose onto John Kemp.  They need to drive to the net hard, crash the net, and bang home goals.  I saw that tonight and I liked it.  The Jacket's aren't a offensively gifted team, especially with Atkinson being out, so this team has to play hard-nosed in the offensive zone, and they did just that tonight.  You can see this team working hard.

5.  Mason looked good tonight.  This Bud's for you.  Your glove hand was quick tonight and you had Kane's number on two key saves in the first and third periods.  It's weird to say that at 1-3-1 that the least of the Blue Jackets worries is their goaltending.  Mason made some big saves tonight that he hasn't made in the past.  Keep it up kid.

6.  The PK was a light that shined brightly again tonight, and it's a very simple and effective Penalty Kill.  The Jackets set up inside the Red Zone and put their sticks into the passing lanes.  They have quiet sticks, not the 'windshield wiper' sticks you sometimes see from fowards on the PK.  If the forwards on the top of the PK challange the points, they don't overskate the points.  The PK, while not used a bunch, kept this game close and contained Sharp, Kane, and Toewes.  The only time I notice Dubinsky was on the PK.

Were the Blue Jackets outworked tonight? Absolutely not.  Columbus worked hard all night.  Chicago capitalized on the few mistakes the Blue Jackets made.  Columbus was able to capitalize on some Chicago mistakes as well, which will go a long way this season.  The Hawks looked like Keystone Cops in front of their own net on Letestu's goal.  A goal that doesn't happen without hard work. I am a little scared that all the bounces seem to be going Dorsett and Umberger's way.  The puck is coming to Dorsett because of his hard work.  Dorsett should try a shoulder or head fake once in a while rather than getting into open space and jamming the puck into the goalies chest. And Umberger?  Well, Umberger is like a 7th year senior - he can't seem to finish.  He had a doorstep opportunity against Phoenix he couldn't jam home, and on the short-handed 3-on-2 the jackets had tonight, RJ couldn't get a handle on the biscuit.  He'll eventually start burying those, and I'm sure he'll be thinking about that missed shorty when he climbs into bed tonight.  It was nice to see Anisimov get on the board tonight, actually, it was nice to actually notice a former Ranger on offense tonight.

The Jackets next game is Monday night at home against the 2-2-1 Dallas Stars.  The Star's team stats don't really wow you a whole lot, but they have themselves 5 points already this season.  Their scoring threats up front are old - Jagr, ex-CBJ captain Ray Whitney, and Brendan Morrow.  Kari Lehtonen was part of the switch-a-roo that brought Rick Nash to the CBJ.  It's also worth noting that Lehtoen is a big time gamer, er, video gamer and his goal mask used to feature Anime or video game artwork.  He's tried to butch up a bit since going to Dallas by adding Clint Eastwood and Chuck Norris to his helmet artwork.  But still...


  1. I hate to say it, as I've been one of Mase's biggest detractors, but he has looked quite good, this season. That said, I'm still waiting for the other shoe to drop. Yet, also hoping it doesn't. Just think, if the CBJ actually had a real 1A,1B goalie situation and the defense got it's act together.......

  2. Just a note on the blown goal tender interference call. Here is a nice post on Puck Daddy

    that says what the officials are SUPPOSED to do. They did not gather in the officials crease, as they were required to. Definitely a procedural gaffe by the officials. Anything else I would have to say would be expletive laced.

    But the game was highly entertaining and a good time.

  3. I feel compelled to defend myself on Beer No. 4.

    What I've been trying to express is that the combination of all the new players (from entirely outside the CBJ system, not just kids moving up from the minors) and six days of training camp (with no exhibition games) preceded by a no-contact period that lasted something like three or four months meant that the players, the coaching staff and the team were placed in a no-win situation from a chemistry point of view. Two of the three defensive pairings, although not playing great (DRINK!), have some degree of familiarity. The forwards, however, pretty much have no chemistry outside of Anisimov/Dubinsky and Brassard/Umberger.

    I'm not expecting the CBJ forwards to light it up like the pre-FOX puck era. By my amateur eye, they don't have the team speed or skill to do so. I am expecting that the first batch of games this season will serve as the team's exhibition season, however...and am frustrated that they have to count in the standings. It certainly won't help the CBJ become a surprise playoff team.

    That all said, I agree 100 percent that the team looked pretty solid out there last night against the Blackhawks. They ARE improving (or at least showed some improvement for a night...much to early to suggest a trend), and that bodes well going forward.

    And who knew that Mason could play the glove side high? Great to see. This overpacked, tightened season demands two capable goaltenders, and we might have just that.

  4. Because of the last 3 seasons, the jury will probably remain out on Mase for a while. That said, the game was entertaining, the team played perhaps its' best 60 minutes in several seasons, and except for a phantom call, the outcome might have been better. While I don't see a reason to start printing playoff tickets, this IS A BETTER PRODUCT than we fans have seen in quite some time. My expectations were not that high going in, but the goals-by-committee approach is still a work in progress. The only real disappointment thus far is why virtually EVERY MISTAKE this team makes ends up in a goal the other way. Or at least a very good opportunity. Oh well. Maybe 5 or 6 points this week will soothe the aches and pains. LETS GO JACKETS!!!

  5. It is because of a call like the waved off goal, that the NHL could consider allowing ONE coaches challenge similar to the NFL. I know, it will go against tradition and cause heartburn for the refs, but simply because the official ruled it a no goal, doesn't mean that he got it right.

    Something needs to be done and let's hope that the possible extra point that CHI got last night (without having to go into OT or a shoot out) causes a future headache for the NHL in the playoff seeding or quite possibly, even though unlikely, keeping a team out of the playoffs (if CHI would end up in the 8th playoff spot).

  6. That was one of the most disgusting calls I've ever seen in my life, and I've seen a LOT of calls. YOU WERE ROBBED! It was so dugusting I puked in my mouth a little. PATHETIC.

    You deserved the win on that one.

    - Joe in Vancouver

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