Saturday, October 22, 2016

This is Why Hockey is So Much Fun

Chicago Struggled Containing Josh Anderson
What a fun game!  Amazingly, the Jackets made the same 3-1 lead that they had against Boston stand up tonight against Chicago, against all odds, and the specter of an 0-8 losing streak is dead.  As a fan, it is hard to describe how huge this is.  As players, I hope the Jackets are happy about the win, but more pleased about their ability to skate with the Blackhawks.  The Jackets lost their first two games to heavy, physical teams (Boston, San Jose), but were able to skate with a team that has won Stanley Cups by out skating their opponents.

It is apparently true that Chicago's penalty kill is a hot mess.  The Blue Jackets took advantage of Chicago's miscues scoring two goals, while the 'Hawks were unable to muster scoring opportunities on their many power plays.

But don't get me wrong.  I think the young Blue Jackets played a very strong game.  They staked themselves to a lead in the first two periods by dominating the skating against a good skating team, and held on in the third in the face of the inevitable push by a very, very good team.

As piercing as the white hot anger about the loss to Boston in the opener, the joy of this performance is perhaps of the same intensity.  As a fan, surrounded by Blackhawks supporters, I tried to rise to the occasion.  It was wonderful to be supported by an excellent game by the CBJ, with strong performances throughout the lineup.  I thought that blog favorite Scott Hartnell was key in enabling a nimble, fast and powerful Josh Anderson.  Here is a guy going to a new level, pushing off the foundation of the Calder Cup playoffs last year.  Josh made a big step in the Calder Cup playoffs last year, and he seems to be able to push off of that this year.  With Scott Hartnell as a line mate, they become a load for other teams to handle.

Tonight is a feeling of liberation from the ghosts of last year.  Tomorrow an excellent Dallas Stars team will try to bring the CBJ to earth.  On the other hand, the league has not even begun the process of figuring out who Lucas Sedlak is, much less designing a game plan to deal with him.  Good opener Lucas.  You were a force all night last night.  You get a Vinny pointing picture when you score that first goal.

In summary, the young players took it to the 'Hawks bottom 6, while the Jackets top lines went toe to toe with the Blackhawks top lines, and held them to less than 3.  That was enough for the first win of the year, a joyous occasion which liberated the old farts like me from last year's result.  It is uncharted territory from here.


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