Sunday, March 9, 2014

Game 64: Moxy

The strangest thing happened tonight.  Late in the third period, my cats disappeared.  Haven't seen them since.  I don't think they've quite adjusted to an Arty Party yet.  In a clash of Goal Tending Titans, Pekka Rinne and Sergei Bobrovsky battled.  Fortunately, each of them had a team of committed defenders in front of them, but Nashville was unable to put a wicked backhander off a power move on Bobrovsky, so the CBJ win 1-0.  

Gosh darn, What a great hockey game!  Two hard nose, hard working hockey teams face off, each with a hot goal tender.  It's like taking two grinding wheels and jamming them together to see which one wears down first.  Nashville dominated the first period, but building on the momentum of a Corey Tropp fight and a double minor high sticking power play, the CBJ dominated the second period, which ended with the score still 0-0.   But the Blue Jackets roared out of the gate, and the first ten minutes of the third period were like a power play.  The Predators fought it off, and started to re-establish themselves, when Anisimov stole the puck, did a quick give and go with Wisniewski and drove the net, scoring off his red hot backhand,.

Moxy is a funny word.  It's an old word (moxie) and a new word if you look in the Urban Dictionary.  Simply translated, it is 'intestinal fortitude'.  Look, here's the deal with the Chicago game.  We are unable to run with the elite teams.  Pittsburgh, Boston, and ...Chicago.  Maybe some day.  But not now.  But, you are looking for a response to getting dominated.  The Blue Jackets got back to their roots, strapped it on, and went toe to toe with a physical Predators team, and had just enough more skill to come out with the win.

This NHL schedule is one of counter-punching.  If you finish with a  .500 winning percentage in the Western Conference, then you only need to finish ahead of your division rivals to make the playoffs. Tonight's win cancels out a November loss at home, which minimizes the degree to which our slow start affects our finish.

You know, when Kathryn Tappen says 'the Jackets skate away with a win' it makes me kind of breathless.  Must be the beginning of allergy season, or something.

1. My first CBJ beer goes to Sergei Bobrovsky.  This award flipped a few times in the third period, but when your goal tender pitches a shut out, you win, and so does Bobrovsky.  If Bob doesn't play insane, the game is over in the first period.  Shots at the end of the first period were 14-5 in Nashville's favor.  Bob fought this off, which got him to the time when the rest of the team began to dominate play.  Following Renne's test through the second and third period, Bob was called on to seal the win, and the precious two points.  In the last two minutes of the game, Bobrovsky's play was stellar.

2. My second CBJ beer goes to Artim Anisimov.  What I like the most about his beautiful drive to the net was his ability to let his teammate James Wisniewski give him a pass at something like 90 mph and to softly gather the puck at full speed in stride. Renne was in trouble at that point, considering how fast Anisimov was going.  Arty unleashed his lethal backhand at point blank range.  The only reason that Arty got the second beer was that Bobrovsky turned his goal, the only one of the game, into a win and a crucial two points.

3.  My third CBJ beer goes to the Jacket Backers, who had a huge contingent in Nashville for another win.  I would be the last person to point out that the CBJ have a winning percentage in the games that they attend in Nashville, which illustrates the beauty of the Eastern Conference thing.  Now these games are a once a year holiday instead of a divisional curb stomping game.  I was gonna give this beer to Pekka Rinne, for his unbelievable performance in goal, especially in the second period, but he plays for Nashville, we won, and the Jacket Backers rode all that way having an outrageously good time, at least as reported by twitter. So they get the nod.  Seriously folks.  This is a trip to circle in August when the schedule comes out.  I've been to this arena, and it's nice.  A fun and affordable road game.  And what happens in Nashvegas stays in Nashvegas.

4. My fourth beer is to letting the Wookie win (see the never ending segment from DKM hockey).  Our defense is under siege, but the real Dalton Prout is on scene.  Prout had off season surgery, missed most of training camp, and got injured again.  He finally was able to get healthy and play in the AHL over the Olympic break, and is now in the form he displayed down the stretch last year.  This is a big 22 ounce beer of issues we are talking about here tonight.  With the news of Ryan Murray's season ending (unless we make the second round of the playoffs) knee surgery, the defense is now different.  I personally believe that Dalton Prout is going to emerge in the games down the stretch as a force to be reckoned with.  I saw it tonight in his willingness to take the shot.   When the cycle of play dictates that the defenseman takes an available shot, I saw him embrace that role and let his best shot go.  I think some of those will find the net in the games to come.  This team has needed a shut down defenseman all year.  He's finally healthy.

5.  My fifth CBJ beer is for a Mulligan.  A Mulligan is a golf shot that you line up perfectly, but nonetheless goes awry.  You take a Mulligan, and do it again.  Well, I give Nick Shultz a Mulligan for the Chicago game.  I thought he played today like he had been on our defense all year.  While I am still trying to understand the pairings, all three were solid in the face of the injuries the team has sustained.  The next few games will be a fascinating look at the team's defensive depth.  At this point I see it as a monster opportunity for Cody Goloubef, who has not looked bad at all in his opportunities.  The addition of Shultz gives us three pariings of veteran-young player, with Johnson, Wisniewski and Shultz as the veterans.  It is interesting to watch Savard skate with Jack Johnson.  That might be a natural pairing.  The reality of the situation is that while the defensive pairings are now completely different, that doesn't mean we could not make the playoffs with these pairings.

6.  My sixth CBJ beer is to us, the fans.  We are lucky enough to have a supremely entertaining playoff hunt on our hands, a team that is worthy of our support, in that their work ethic makes them worthy, and that tonight's game was one of the ways you can tell.  Nobody's perfect, and they laid an egg on the road (much different from laying an egg in your own barn) and they responded.  I feel kind of liberated, as this is a pattern with this team.  As a long time fan, I carry the weight of simple 'we worked hard but we lost' which turns into a 5 game losing streak.  This team absorbs the loss, and responds with a win.  None of the current players were around for the above mentioned losing streak.  So I am going to let go of it.  Which of course is why my cats are hiding, but that is simply a manifestation of the phenomenon I described above.

The Jackets skate away with a win.  Did it just get hot in here?


1 comment:

  1. They DO seem to be learning"on the fly", don't they? This is not the calm defence of a Toots or a Murray and the "hair on fire" concerns me a bit. But the results, at least in this game , were highly entertaining. It will be interesting to see against a team with more offensive ability. Then again, there IS always BOB on patrol. All in all, while i'd prefer to have a healthy D, this team has yet to skate ONE GAME THIS SEASON with no one on the injury report. And they keep hangin' around. As a coach my belief has always been if you let a less talented team stay in the game, or the chase, don't be surprised if that group starts believing they belong there. One shift at a time, one game at a time.This group believes it can do this. Who am I to doubt them. GO JACKETS


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