Sunday, January 3, 2016

Forsberg Gets First NHL Win

Anton Forsberg in Training Camp This Year.
Anton Forsberg collected his first NHL win last night as the CBJ prevailed 5-4 in a shootout against the red hot Washington Capitals.  The Caps had won 9 straight before losing to Carolina and then settling for the loser point against the CBJ.  The game swung back and forth, with the CBJ getting on the board early, then the Caps tying the game with their deadly power play.  Braden Holtby, the Capitals goal tender has been on fire lately, with a sub 2 Goals Against Average during the Caps winning streak.  But the CBJ hung 4 regular time goals on him last night to push this one to overtime.

Curtis McElhinney had played well in this game. continuing a stretch of good play lately.  Then early in the overtime period, he went down, and Forsberg had to come in cold off the bench.  I didn't really see what happened to CMac.  According to Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch he got a skate stuck in a rut in the ice as he moved side to side, injuring his leg somehow.  So Forsberg comes in, and the drama starts.  In the first shift, Kuznetsov came in to take a run at the rookie goal tender, and Dubinsky did anything in his power to stop him from getting there, which meant he drew the slashing penalty.  I think this moment loomed large in the shoot out later.  The Jackets rallied, killed the 4 on 3 OT power play, and even drew a penalty of their own toward the end of OT.  Anton Forsberg stopped 6 shots during that power play.

In the shootout,  Holtby had denied Cam Atkinson, and Oshie had put on a clinic on putting the goal tender down to give the Caps a 1-x lead in the shootout.  Dubinsky shot next for the Jackets, and from my perch in the upper bowl, you could tell he was going to score by the time he had taken two strides.  There was just an air of determination about him, and sure enough it seemed his shot was by Holtby before he even had a chance to react.  Forsberg stopped the next Capitals shooter, Ryan Johansen did his filthy slow down roof shot, and set the stage for Forsberg's first win.  A stop on the last Capitals shooter gave the CBJ consecutive wins against two of the better teams in the NHL.

Coming into Tuesday's game it looks like the CBJ will be coming in with the tandem of Korpisalo and Forsberg until we know the extent of  McElhinney's injury.  What does this mean in the grand scheme of things?  Well, these are stepping stones in Forsberg and Korpisalo's development, and we shouldn't be stapling the outcome of these next few games to their careers.  It is a good opportunity, but both of these guys need to be playing, and its ok for that to be at the NHL level.  Ian Clark will have an upgraded opportunity to work with each of them, but they are still goal tenders of the future, not goal tenders of the present.

However, Bobrovsky re-aggravating his groin injury makes me think that the surgical option is probably the way to go there.  It's out for 6 weeks, but look at Dubinsky.  They fixed him right up.  That Doctor in Philly is so good he even fixed Marion Gaborik's groin, and that's saying something.  Time to get it fixed now.  Did you see that Auston Matthews  had a hat trick in the World Juniors yesterday?  There is a young player, already playing against men in Switzerland, with a former NHL coach as his head coach.  Well, that's for later.  But Edmonton's got a shot at the playoffs in the weak Pacific Division, which it would be interesting because someone else would HAVE to win the lottery.
For now, we remain mired in last place, with Tortorella trying to lead the boys out of the desert.  We'll see how successful he is.  Make sure you read this post by Jeff Little over on the Cannon.  Jeff has a knack of seeing things from above the noise and the gnashing of teeth, so find some time to read this one.

Brandon Saad is playing really well now.  It was interesting to see Tortorella take blame for his earlier play.  He's funny that way.  He will protect his players if they earn it.  Wennberg made a really sick pass to Saad for his first goal.  He was pinned on the boards by a 2 on 1, but he beat the 2 on 1 and lasered a backhand pass right on to Saad's stick at the back door of the goal for the easy put in.  It was a heck of a play by the young centerman.  The line of Saad, Wennberg, and Hartnell is causing real problems for other teams, and they are a lot of fun to watch.  Saad's tying goal in the waning moments of the game was one of those wicked back hand shots he can take.  It was all he had, so he just buried it.  Sweet.

It was a fun game.  A good Saturday night crowd, with a fair sprinkling  of Caps fans.  More importantly, the boys defended the home barn, which they need to start doing with regularity.  The last two games have been really fun games.  Back at it on Tuesday against the Wild, with a rookie goal tender in net.  Hoo boy.


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