Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Hangover, Part IX

Hee, hee.  Couldn't resist.
I wasn't sure where I was going with this post when I found the picture from previous use.  It was downhill from there.  The losing streak is like a bad hangover, lingering long after it should have stopped.  The goal tending is a throbbing headache that seems to defy medication, the injuries are the unexplained black eye that greets you in the morning.  It will get better, but it will take some time, and until then its ugly.

And, like a bad hangover, the current state of the CBJ is something to be endured.  Fortunately though, the cure to all our problems becomes clear!  Hydrate, hydrate, and hydrate some more!  And while we're at it, forecheck, forecheck, and forecheck some more!!  OK, time to get a little more serious.

One thing I keep forgetting about the current crop of AHLers that occupy the lower lines of the CBJ, just about none of these guys (except Chaput) spent the year or two with Brad Larsen down in Springfield learning this system that last year's team had available.  The house afire alacrity that Derek MacKenzie always brought to a good old 'cycle down low' is something that this crop of players needs to learn.  The good news is that they showed last night that they are learning the lesson.  As the game progressed, they really started to play the unique Blue Jackets style that last year's team perfected, but has escaped these guys to date.

Late in the first period, already down 2-0 of course, Nick Foligno put on a real time clinic on puck possession below the other teams net.  Moving his feet, protecting the puck, making the opposition come to him.  And darn if late in the third period, there is Alex Wennberg doing the same thing, moving his feet, protecting the puck, taking the banging that it entails.  That, my friends, is good stuff.  Wennberg's skill is going to be there.  The will to play 'keep away' along the boards in the offensive zone of another NHL team is a learned attribute.  But it pays big dividends, which is why it's so hard.

I felt I saw some really good things in that Caps game.  Things you can build off of.  I'm not really seeing an end to this streak soon, and won't be surprised if it continues for a few more games.  I'm not being a negative nancy, just not being unreasonably optimistic.  They will emerge from this at some point; just as no team has won them all, no team has lost them all.  But the lessons the young players are learning from this will pay dividends down the road.

This current streak is something to be endured, like a bad hangover.  So you find the humor where you can, and soldier on.  Because the combinations are almost limitless in this situation.  McTank for McDavid.  McFlop for McDavid.  McDive for McDavid.  You could do that all day....


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