Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Eastern Conference Hi-Jinks

RJ Umberger as a Blue Jacket
Interesting game tonight.  We hosted a couple of Flyer Fans which made it a little crazy, but fun.  Which is what this whole Eastern Conference gig is all about.  These games just feel so natural.  The Flyers are a bit of a train wreck, and the CBJ express is rumbling down the rails leaking steam and sparks in all directions.  It made for a fun hockey game.  In some ways this is still the age of innocence, where the CBJ have yet to punch some of these teams out of a playoff.  That bad blood is earned, and we haven't done it yet.

Perhaps we have a teeny bit of bad blood with Pittsburgh, but who doesn't?  In that regard, this is all still new to us, and these games are really fun. The CBJ <we interrupt this statement to point out the redundant use of the word 'fun'.  The office of redundancy office deplores this fan boy schilling to the powers that be because it implies that cynical bashing might be slightly out of style> prevailed tonight 3-2 in overtime on an improbable breakaway feed from Ryan Johansen to Kevin Connauton for the winning goal.  Once again the CBJ  went into a defensive shell to try to preserve a 2-1 lead late in the third period.  With about 5 minutes left in the game, and the CBJ going on the power play, the power play strategy appeared to be to play the old basketball 4 corners stall.  The Flyers ate it up, spending the bulk of the power play in their offensive zone, overwhelming our five gliders with 4 skaters.  This gave the Flyers momentum going into the last minutes, and once they pulled the goal tender, they were able to draw even.

The Flyers carried the momentum into the overtime, but Ryan Johansen, at the end of a long shift ended up on a 2 on 1 breakaway with Kevin Connauton, in which he delayed and put the puck right on Connauton's stick, and he beat Steve Mason for the winner.  This play resulted in a pile of exultant players on top of Connauton, as he scored his first goal for the CBJ, a game winner.  Cool stuff.

Other interesting story lines in this game was the return of RJ Umberger to Nationwide Arena as a member of the Flyers.  He got a brief mention on the jumbotron (he did ask for a trade after all) and Scott Hartnell got on the board with a goal, while Umberger was pretty invisible in over 15 minutes of ice time.  It is important to keep in mind that the value of this trade needs to be evaluated in the long term, as both players have several more years on their contract, but in the short term this trade is tilted decidedly towards Hartnell.

At the end of the day, this is the fourth straight win for the CBJ.  They are making progress towards erasing the recent 6 game losing streak, but the 9 game losing streak still lurks on their record.  It's not the end of the world if they lose a game, but they cannot afford any more losing streaks.  They are making the baby steps they need to climb back in it, and have lulled the other teams to sleep.  We'll see if they can sneak back into it.


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