Thursday, April 3, 2014

CBJ vs the Flyers - effort vs results.

Columbus Blue Jackets 2 - Philadelphia Flyers 0

It was a game of narratives, and luckily not being bound by the need to sell advertising, I find no reason to expound upon any of them.  It was the Blue Jackets versus the Flyers with playoff implications on the line.  Visting the not so friendly confines of the Wells Fargo Center nestled snugly in the City of Brotherly Love, the Jackets were guests to the skidding Flyers.  The Flyers who had points in 8 straight games, were winless in their last two.  The Jackets were coming off a disappointed 'Own Goal' loss to the Avalanche on Tuesday night.  Thanks to October and November tonight, like all the remaining games this season, are of priceless importance. 

The first period was a showing of good effort by the Blue Jackets.  The Flyers were the recipients of some fortuitous power play time and the Jacket penalty kill was equal to the task.  All in all the Jackets brought the body, skated with speed speed, and kept Mason on his toes in the Flyers net.  Dzone coverage was solid by the CBJ, the forwards played smart, and it was a solid first period.  To try and find anything wrong with the first period would just be idiotic, but with saying that, I would have like to see some results from the even strenght effort.  Like my dad told me when I made my first travel hockey team, "effort gets you on the team, results keep you on the team."  The Jackets had some pressure, but never really tested Mason in the first.  It was obvious Mason was fighting the puck and I would have liked to see a few more shots taken given the opportunity.  I minor grip yes, but then there was the second period.

The second period was all Bob.  The Jackets didn't look awful in the second, just overwhelmed and unresponsive.  The crisp dzone coverage in the first was lax, passing was sloppy, and the first power play was uninspired.  But late in the 2nd and on the power play, and with the Jackets set up in a formation I would only dare dream of seeing in NHL 14, Wisniewski bangs home a goal down low and the Jackets take the lead in the second 1-0.  Letestu on the point, Wiz down low, cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria!  To say the Jackets were lucky to get out of the second period without giving up three goals, let alone the lead, would be the understatement of the season.  Bob stole the period for the Blue Jackets and likely the game with this performance in the middle stanza.  By that man a beer CBJ forwards, buy that man a beer.

It's how the Jackets chose to respond in the third that gave me an odd sense of confidence I haven't often associated with the Columbus Blue Jackets.  The Jackets came out pressing hard, working the fore check, and then the forwards back checking to make the Flyers transition game tough.  Clearly unsatisfied with the second period performance, the Jackets made a statement in the third.  The Jackets pressure in the 3rd period was rewarded as a shot from the point found the back of the net via Brandon Dubinsky's skates.  "Fortune favors the bold" a beer commercial once said.  As the halfway point of the the 3rd period came, with the exception of one or two shifts, the Jackets executed well while playing with the lead. When challanged, they dumped the puck into the zone, but quickly mounted the forecheck.  The Flyers kept coming, but their rushes weren't sustained and their top line was visibly frustrated.  Seeing the Flyers fans uncomfortable was an added bonus for this blogger.  It was on this night that the effort given by the Blue Jackets finally produced a favorable result.  Credit to Bob for bailing the team out in the second, but kudos to the rest of the team for coming out in the 3rd and playing a solid game of hockey.

Unlike the lead blown two nights prior, the Jackets played their style of hockey throughout the 3rd period tonight.  They played big, played physical, kept the turnovers to the minimum, and won battles in the important areas of the ice.  There was a little bit of bad news coming from tonight's victory.  As Aaron Portzline once said, if the Jackets are playing their style of hockey, forwards are going to get hurt.  Nick Foligno left the game in the third, nursing what appeared to be a lower body injury - or was the best feigning of an upper body injury I've ever seen.  As confirmed by Head Coach Todd Richards, Folgino will be evaluated further tomorrow.  Let's hope it's not a long term injury and something that Nick can come back from quickly.  Foligno would be a great assest if this team looks to continue playing long into the month of May.

Despite the injury to Foligno, the Jackets come away with a 2-0 win against the metro division rival Philadelphia Flyers.  Bob turns away 37 shots for a well earned shutout. The Blue Jackets now sit just two points behind the third place Flyers and find themselves in the last wild card spot in the East.  The Jackets take the ice tomorrow night back home in Nationwide Arena against the visiting Chicago Blackhawks.  There is no time for love Dr Jones, the Jackets have to get right back at it as the Tornoto Maple Leafs have decided to give up losing for lent. 

Buckle up folks, this one is going to be another nail biter, likely down to the last game in Florida.

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