Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Game Recap: CBJ vs. STL 11/30

Last night, the Blue Jackets squared off with the St Louis Blues at Nationwide Arena. While St Louis has not had the breakout year they were hoping to, they are always difficult to handle, and play a similar style of hockey. Columbus brought a five game losing streak to the table, and a serious need to generate some pride for both the teams sake, and their number one goalie.

I felt their pressure and tenacity around the puck was very strong out of the gate. Kris Russell proved to everyone once again that he belongs on this roster as a regular (as I clearly stated in my previous entry) and got the Jackets on the board with a beautiful deke and an even more impressive shot. Moving along in Hitchcock style, when he returned to the ice for his next shift quickly after that, he managed a great stretch pass that turned into a great deflection by Umberger, getting his team quickly on top by a two goal margin.

Now, I really do not know what the deal is with Columbus and a two goal lead. Rarely is there a safe lead in the new NHL, but it seems that the two goal lead is a real killer for the Jackets defense, and it showed late in the first period, and for most of the second period. An injury to Rusty Klesla forced Columbus to run with only five defensemen, and the forced line combinations showed their confusion, allowing multiple odd man rushes, the most notable being the two on one that lead to the tying goal by Paul Kariya.

Yes, the feeling of another inevitable defeat was looming, both in the crowd and in my living room. The kind of situation where one would like to run away and talk about the Ballard slash on Vokoun or the Ovechkin knee rather than continue watching, but the guys pushed on. A forgettable second period lead to a third period worth the time of day, and it was yet another excellent deflection by Umberger that brought the Jackets back on top. Empty netters by Vermette and Umberger (completing his hattrick) sealed the deal for Steve Mason and the Jackets, and put an end to one of the rockiest patches of their recent history.

There was a lot to take out of the game. The secondary powerplay unit of Voracek, Brassard, Russell, Torres, and Vermette were by far the better unit, maintaining possession in the offensive zone and creating havoc in front of Chris Mason. The play of the top powerplay unit was forgettable and a detriment to their special teams all night long. Steve Mason looked somewhat shaky, but held his ground in key moments of the game, turning away a heavy number of shots midway through the game. Kris Russell impressed me last night, not in his play but in his resilience for sitting in the press box for five straight games, and finally getting his chance to make a difference. Believe me, any time you can get your team the boost he did leaves a resounding thud in the ear of the coach. Rusty Klesla's injury is severe enough for a hospital visit, and Mathieu Roy has been recalled from Syracuse. Hopefully his time with the Jackets is traded with Methot only.

Carry the Flag!

No comments:

Post a Comment