Sunday, March 29, 2015

No Pressure

Boone Jenner scored last night
I noticed in the post game interviews that a couple of different players were careful to mention that they were under no pressure after the Blue Jackets beat the host St. Louis Blues 4-2 for their franchise record eighth straight road win.  That is an important aspect of this late season winning that should be remembered.  None of these guys are squeezing the stick, so to speak.  When you have to have that goal to make the playoffs, its harder to make those plays that you need to ensure that playoff spot.  We have seen some pretty miserable Blue Jackets teams over the year play well down the stretch, so a tempering of optimism is appropriate.

They keep beating playoff teams, and good ones, which is undoubtedly a good indicator.  But those are easy games to get your head into.  We'll see how they play Tuesday with McEichel rivals the New Jersey Devils.  That should be a rivalry game normally, but now, meh.  On the other hand, the team is nearly as healthy as it has ever been this year, and maybe we are getting glimpses of what it could have, should have been.  But there were times last night that the Blues simply didn't want anything to do with Dubinsky and Jenner, and there has never been any indication that either of those guys plays differently when 'under pressure' than with no pressure.  I took a listen to Hitch's post game comments, and he felt that the Blues didn't sustain pressure in the offensive zone the first two periods, made offensive plays that were 'hopeful', which fed into the CBJ transition game, and in pure Hitchcockian fashion said they didn't win the battles.  Which the last was true.  The Blues started winning those battles in the third period, and as Hitch said, 'if we'd played the first two periods the way we played the third we might have won'.  So the reality is that this was a good effort by our guys.  And not having any pressure probably won't factor into whether you win those one on one battles.  

The pressure will really ramp up next year, in terms of making this team, especially as a forward.  Consider the following possible lines.


Missing from that groups are:
Anisimov (editor's note, an alert reader pointed out I forgot Arty)
Josh Anderson
Sonny Milano

There is going to be real competition at forward on this team next year.  If they can play some winning hockey in the autumn and early winter of this year, it could be a scary group.  Just where does Conner McDavid fit into all of that?


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