Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Game Recap: Minnesota @ Columbus

It is always easier to recap a loss than it is to recap a victory.  Singling out players for making mistakes is a much harder thing to do (and have people agree with you) when the team blows a two goal lead and loses than it has ever been when they hang on to win.  With that said, there was a whole lot of positive coming out of Nationwide Arena last night after Huselius buried his shootout chance, ending the game and taking home two points for the home team.

I was fortunate enough to attend the game, something I had yet to enjoy the luxury of this year.  The place was far more packed than I thought it would be after some of their recent performances, and the 14,500 noted attendance was a very fair assessment of the total number in the seats.  We sat on the attack once side, which is kind of great for me, as I was hoping to watch Mase up close, and that I did..

The Positives:
- Derick Brassard: scored on a solid pass from Huselius, causing the building to erupt.  It was a great shot, and the kind of goal that good teams score.  No fluke, just a strong play on the puck, and a quick shot to beat Theodore.  I was very happy with Brassard's play last night.
- Steve Mason: kept the Jackets in the game with fantastic saves, especially down the stretch.  All three goals were caused by defensemen not tying up their man, and unfortunately Mase could not make the secondary saves needed to preserve any sort of shutout.  He also made an excellent save on Koivu in the shootout.
- Fedor Tyutin:  While I don't know that I would give him too much credit for his defensive play, he has been the first defender to get a point shot to the net in as long as I can remember.  While I wish he'd work on a quick release shot, his cannon from the point kept the Jackets momentum going and was a big contributor in the win.

The Negatives:
- The Columbus defense (but only to an extent!!):  They played solid hockey for probably 50 minutes of the game, but really and truly need to work on covering a man and tying up sticks in the slot.  It seemed like Minnesota was intentionally taking the puck behind the Jackets net to make a pass out into the middle.
- Mike Commodore:  Took a pretty bad penalty to force his team down a man for five minutes, and made a couple foolish plays throughout the game.  Not his worst game, but that penalty can't happen.
- Rick Nash:  For being as explosive as he is, Nash was pretty tame last night.  Only a few big moves on the puck, all of which ended up flubbing shots or missing passes.  I really wish someone would sit down with him and give him a roadmap of when to shoot and when to make the pass.  He'd do well to look for seams, but when you've got the shot he's got, and you're cutting through the high slot with speed, you need to be ripping a shot low and hard for a rebound (at worst)....
- Kristian Huselius:  I don't really have enough words for the disdain I feel for this guy.  Refuses to make smart plays on the rush, basically gave the puck away on a breakaway (which lead to a MIN goal) and made a BRUTAL and unnecessary play causing a turnover which lead to another MIN goal.  It is so hard for me to watch a player with that much talent not work hard on the ice or off the ice.
- The Referees: This was a pathetic game to watch in regards to officiating.  I don't think the CBJ had a single powerplay, and there was one play specifically that stuck in my head.  Methot was carrying the puck behind his own net, and a MIN player shoved his stick under Methot's skates, spilling him (obviously) with a ref looking blankly at the play.  No call.  Wow NHL, get your zebras sorted out!!!

Overall I was very excited about the win.  Mase came up big when the team needed him to, although you could visibly tell that third goal rattled him.  He spent the next couple minutes fighting off some easier shots, but at the end of the day, that kind of resilience is something that will grow in time, and is something that we have not seen from him in recent games after he gets shelled a bit.

Carry the Flag!

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