Friday, April 11, 2014

Standings Stasis

Tonight the Tampa Bay Lightening snapped the Blue Jackets 3 game winning streak by defeating the good guys by a 3-2 score.  Curtis McElhinney, starting the first game of a back to back, had some ill luck and some strange bounces cost him a couple of goals, and ultimately the game.  Both teams played well, and it was a hard fought game; sometimes the bounces just don't go your way.  Strangely, the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Detroit Redwings 2-1 tonight, so the CBJ still sit in the First Wildcard Spot, with a first round match-up against Pittsburgh for now.  Philadelphia plays Pittsburgh tomorrow afternoon.  That could make things interesting.  So it's all good.

1. The first, frosty cold CBJ Playoff Beer for tonight goes to Boone Jenner.  Jenner scored the first goal for the CBJ to tie the game momentarily, a good push to the net down the slot on the power play.  Jack Johnson put the puck hard on his tape and he just steered it in.  Later in the third period, he returned the favor to David Savard, who buried the second goal, to bring the Jackets within a goal, and make the last few minutes interesting.  Boone seems to be on an accelerating arc in his play in the last few games, sort of assuming some of the leadership mantle now that it is known that Horton is out for the rest of the year.  His 16th goal, Jenner has had a rookie season that far exceeds expectations.  The cool thing is that the trip to the playoffs will solidify the experience from this year.  This guy is going to be a load for years to come if he stays fundamentally healthy.  Great stuff.

2. The second, sweet, clear CBJ Playoff Beer goes to Curtis McElhinney, for playing well enough in a very difficult role that Richie trusted him enough to send him out tonight.  To me, the extra day of rest is critical for Bobrovsky.  Bob gets Florida tomorrow, which is good, otherwise he might go a long time without seeing the puck shot at game speed, as we might not play again until Thursday.  When Bob got injured, CMac and Mike McKenna held down the fort until he healed, winning some critical games that helped put us in the playoffs.  Good work there CMac.  Your reward is playoff hockey!

3. My third, delicious CBJ Playoff Beer goes to Nathan Horton, who had surgery to repair a lower body injury today.  I can't believe the dude played in the Phoenix game, but his handling of a Johansen pass, and a little bunny of a set up for Boone Jenner got us that first goal in that game.  The guy was playing on one leg, but he still gave it a go.  Enjoy this CBJ Playoff Beer as you recuperate Nathan.  What this team has shown this year is who they are.  Yes, people have had career years, but this CBJ product is eminently repeatable. They didn't put this together with a phenomenal 19-5-5 run like last year.  Rather it has been steady winning play since the new year.  Heal up, and plan on getting a full, healthy year in next year.  But don't dawdle, because these playoffs are funny things.  You never know what will happen.

4. My fourth, not too cold, not too warm, just right CBJ Playoff Beer goes to Lori Schmidt.  You will forever have my gratitude for 'piling on' Scott Arniel, and helping to rid us of that mistake.  But the real reason I'm giving you this beer is for posting this audio clip from the Phoenix game on your blog "Fear the Hat'.  There are two things about that audio clip that are worthy of note.  The first is the loud C-B-J chant.  This is the first, different, organic, crowd grown chant that I have seen grow in Nationwide Arena.  I love the solid 'Let's go Jackets', but that C-B-J chant cannot be mistaken for any other team's chant.  This will be an important tool in the crowd tool belt moving into the playoffs.  The second is the roar of the crowd when Joey scores that winning goal.  In the Arena, that roar has a pure, ringing quality to it.  I've heard it before, but it's only recently started to reoccur.  Hint:  There's going to be more of that going on in the next few weeks.

5.  This fifth, hard earned CBJ Playoff Beer goes to our colleague Morgan over at DKM hockey.  A Rangers fan started to give him some guff on Twitter today, implying that the CBJ would be an easy out for the Rangers.  His reply: 'The CBJ want the Rangers like a fat kid wants cake...".  End of trolling.  I would happily trade the Flyers a Pittsburgh series for a series with the Rangers.  Maybe that wouldn't turn out well for us.  But maybe.....

6. This sixth, ginormous CBJ Playoff Beer goes to the 2013-14 Columbus Blue Jackets players and coaches.  This has been a really fun season to follow you, and watch you grow.  A record setting season that we will talk about in the off season at more length.  Thanks for the ride.  It's been a beauty.  I can't wait for the rest of it.

Life is a funny thing.  I totally support my colleague, the Dark Blue Jacket, in his decision to drop the writing responsibilities for his family.  But I am at a different point in my life.  My boys have graduated from college, and are working stiffs now.  It goes without saying that I am proud as Nebuchadnezzar of them.  But they take care of themselves now.  So my time pressures are totally different.

Maintaining a blog is a funny thing.  The need for fresh content is real, as folks ought to have a reasonable chance of seeing something worth reading when they take the trouble to click on your link.  I don't know how its going to go without the DBJ filling those gaps.  Morgan will chime in when he can, but his time demands, and the good work he does on DKM hockey may keep him away for extended periods.  So there it is.

We do this for fun.  And this has been a real fun team to write about, in spite of the occasional outburst of immature petulance <whistles innocently>.  And now we are in the playoffs!  How much more fun can it get?

We have Florida in the final game of the regular season tomorrow, then we find out on Sunday who we play, and when.  Hang on to your hats folks.  The ride is just beginning.


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