Friday, November 1, 2013

Morgan's thoughts on Game 12: The Pittsburgh Penguins

Fans of distinction
"You don't win many ball games scoring one run" - Joseph Albert Langworthy, Jr.

Yes, the Blue Jackets lost 4-2 to the Penguins, but the second goal came with 45 seconds left in the game when the Pens where thinking about post-game quickies between the arena and the airport.  But you get the idea planted in my head by Grandpa Joe.

Seems as if the crew here at Dark Blue Jacket has found a new way to drive traffic to this site - suggest that the Penguins or their fans aren't the best things to walk the face of the earth - and the Pens fans will go crazy.  Sure, being interviewed by the New York Times and being featured on Puck Daddy is a fun and rewarding piece of being part of the Dark Blue Jacket team.  But dear lord, so is snorting from laughter reading the Penguins fan's reactions to our well-adjusted and yet sometimes unpopular opinions.  Never change Penguins fans, never change.  Alas, the good times and noodle salad ended there.  The Penguins are a skilled hockey team that need little time to score...

The Jackets played the first game of a home and home series against the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, PA - and the Blue Jackets got embarrassed.  The pre-game chuckles at the expense of the sensitve Penguins fan ended quickly after the puck dropped.  The first period had encouraging moments.  Well one really - the Jackets came out of it down only 1-0.  Not much Bob can do on that first Penguins goal, other than become morbidly obese so that his new found fatness covers all 24 square feet of the goal mouth. Deflections in front that are redirected into the upper corners of the net that all butterfly goalies give up are tough to prevent.  Nevertheless in the first period it was easy to see who was the more skilled team.

One team had to chip the puck in wide, get the cycle going at the half boards, pump the puck high, then collapse to the neutral zone when the puck was turned over.  The other team brought the puck up the center of the ice, pushing it wide at the blue line gaining the zone, generating scoring chances with speed, and getting on the fore check when the puck was turned over.  While the athleticism of both teams (all teams in the NHL for that matter) are so close, it's evident skill beats will when will is evenly matched.  If the CBJ's game plan is to contain another team, then they are content to let the other team set the tone and pace of the game.  There was very little passion from the Jackets in that first any period.  The first period felt like the first 10 minutes of a soon to be lopsided pick-up hockey session.  Clearly the last seveal games have taught us that if we wait until the first intermission to adjust, bad things happen in the first few moments of the second period.

Folks, don't let the SOG fool you.  They only part of Fleury that got a workout was his chest. Despite the number of saves, I'm not sure Fleury needed a shower after the game.  The Jackets shots on goal looked like my men's league team - shot directly into the chest and glove.  Fleury had a couple of nice leg saves, but many of his saves were routine.  Fleury wasn't really challenged much of the night with the only tangible pressure coming in the last 30 seconds of the game.  Oh, so that Pens fans don't think I'm trolling Fleury, what I'm trying to say here is that the Blue Jackets weren't trying to pick the corners much tonight.  The Jackets generated some good scoring chances, but ever the 7th year senior, they couldn't finish them.  Always Be Closing.  Goals are for Closers.  Yet, dan Kamal is ready to trade Bobrovsky.  Dear Lord...

Ugh, the second period.  The second period wasn't all Bob's fault.  Yes, Bob has to to stop that second goal.  No excuses about it.  That was a soft goal.  Very soft, very bad.  The third goal Bob has to stop as well - it trickles through the five hole.  That Pends power play comes as Wisniewski takes a bad delay of game penalty by throwing the puck (meaning you have to close your hand on the puck to throw it). However, if Bob stops that shot from the point, Sutter jams home the rebound in front as Prout was wandering through Dzone coverage on the penalty kill like a mini-mite hopped up on last night's Halloween candy.  Lots of puck watching on that PK.  Coach Richards makes an appropriate goal tending change and McElhinney is between the pipes.  Then the fourth goal happens, when everybody, including hero of the universe himself, Brandon Dubinsky, is standing around watching the Penguins skate through a cone drill to score their fourth goal.

I will admit that I am a biased fan of of a constant 1-2-2 fore check as a player, coach, and when I put on my 'fan hat.'  Sometimes a 2-1-2 trap is appropriate when you need a quick goal when down a couple, but I always like rolling a 1-2-2.  Make the Penguins breakout beat you through two layers of a responsible fore check.  The only thing a 1-2-2 fore check prevents you from doing is putting 4 or 5 guys in the neutral zone. A 1-2-2 is not high risk, but it's effective in pressuring the Pittsburgh D after the Jackets turn the puck over in the attacking zone. The CBJ forth line seemed to be the only line doing it every shift.  It wasn't until the team was down 4 goals that all forward lines were on a 1-2-2 fore check.  Too little, too late in my opinion  You have to have pop and energy for any fore check to be successful.  There was little of that in the 2nd and 3rd period.

Derek McKenzie gives the CBJ a little spark when (after a turnover caused by the fore check) he scores backdoor on a bang-bang play from Foligno.  Nice work on that goal.  But the Blue Jackets continued to pump shots into Fleury's chest the rest of the night.  I did notice that the Jackets set up Atkinson on some indirect shots in the first period.  That was about the only creative offense we saw most of the night.  Johansen scores a meaningless goal late in the third, although it was nice to see him display a little scoring touch on that goal.  I guess I should say the timing of his goal made it meaningless. 

I'm not much into advanced stats in hockey for a couple reasons, mainly because there is no statistical correlation between when you suck in Dzone coverage or when you continue to shoot the puck into the center of the goalies chest.  There is no advanced stat that shows when Gaborik and Anisimov get beat to every puck.  No MORCI to show why Richards puts Letestu at the point on the
Power play instead of Tyutin or Savard.  No advanced stat to show when when a shooter takes a bad wide angle shot instead of passing it to a line mate all alone in front of the net.  Alas, advanced stats are a great way to show who is a meaningless 20 goal scorer and who is a valuable 20 goal scorer. I'm not bashing advanced stats.  I'm trying to say at least 50% of the time you have to actually watch the game to understand the actions that led to the outcome.

Getting Back to Dan Kamal.  He made a comment during the post game segment to the effect of "Who do you start in goal tomorrow night?"  Easy, you start Bobrovsky.  I mean, if you really want your back-up playing in back-to-back games against the Penguins 12 games into the season, go ahead.  Richards has his plan set for the goalie rotation this weekend.  There was a nice piece about bandwagon fans on this blog earlier today.  It's not a stretch to pull out "B" word here if you want to shelve you're number one cop because he's been less that sharp the last 2 games only 12 games removed from a Vezina trophy season.  Kenny Guiton and Curtis McElhinney will always be the most popular guys in Columbus this year.  In my mind, playing McElhinney in back to back night against the Penguins this early in the seasons sends the wrong message to Bobrovsky.  Send Bob out there tomorrow night, tell him to keep it simple, and see what happens.  It's all mental with Goalies.  If Bob feels like he has to out there every night and do everything himself, stop every shot, he'll be in a place worse than hell.  If you expect Bob to stop everything every night, he'll over play the puck, he'll get frustrated with with is offense, it will get messy.

I won't object if Richards starts McElhinney tomorrow, yet I won't agree with it.  You don't bench Bob because he had a bad start tonight.  However, I do expect some chit-chat between the coaching staff and Bobrovksy on the flight back to Cbus tonight.  Remember, this is the same Bob was in net against Toronto last Friday when the Jackets scored 5 goals.  Where the hell was that offense and energy tonight?  Frustrating game all around.  Blaming it all on Bob might not be entirely accurate.

The Jackets take on the Penguins tomorrow night in Columbus at what is sure to be renamed the Consolwide Energy Arena.  And I swear in the name of everything holy, I will go berserk if some one is offended that Columbus 'might not be a hockey town'  and yet there is a Penguins fan riding the Zamboni again at tomorrow night's game.  #DefendTheZamTunnel

I had hoped this would have been a closer game.  Then I could have filled this post with clever wit, silly gifs, and teased the Penguins fans some more.  But the Jackets didn't have a solid game tonight, got spanked, and I have no room to tease Pens fans.  I wish I could.  Maybe tomorrow.  Maybe...

Game in one Haiku

Jackets score two goals
Kamal benches Bobrovsky
Lackluster team play


  1. Think you have it bad? Try having a brother back in Pittsburgh who is a big time Pens fan. Oh, the pain of having to accept defeat once again.

  2. And what the hell is wrong with bandwagon fans? Have you noticed our "crowds" of 10,000 at Nationwide? The only time we fill the place is when teams like Toronto or Pittsburgh are in town with their "bandwagon" fans. If only WE had bandwagoners; it would mean the CBJ are relevant for once.


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