Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Game Recap :: Columbus vs Detroit 10/25

So much to cover.  So much positive tonight.  Here's a quick few points to get us started, but don't be surprised if a number of these topics turn into extended discussions over the next day or two.

- Can you say depth scoring?
- Johansen scores his first NHL goal
- John Moore scores his first NHL goal
- The fans heart Steve Mason.... ...for now
- Wizmas was Wiztasticly Wizerrifc.

Now to go into a bit of depth about the game, I will say all the build up with #Wizmas and GM Scott Howson's tremendous blog got my excitement and attention.  For a guy driving 90 miles to watch an 0-7-1team, I was oddly pumped up and for good measure.  Why? Because this is NOT an 0-7-1 caliber hockey club.  Pre game Chipotle, and in the seats with a good ten minutes to spare, it was time to turn on the hockey banter and prep for the game to begin.

There were undoubtedly thousands of Red Wings fans in attendance, as noted by the roar they gave after Detroit managed to tie the game at one, but again I am getting ahead of myself.  From the opening draw it was pretty clear the Jackets were excited to play, thanks in part to a solid crowd and the return of off-season acquisition James Wisniewski, and they were rewarded early with Umberger FINALLY burying his first goal of the year.  The relief was building wide, but no one showed more excitement and emotion on the play than RJ, hollering and "woo"ing all the way to the bench.

The other big story was Steve Mason.  Injured on the goal scored by Detroit, he left the ice for a brief period to be examined, yet returned to action within a few shifts.  This IS resilience and passion for the game, and his efforts throughout the game were tremendous, making quality saves and avoiding more than only the occasional rebound.  I would certainly argue that his play was elevated from other games this season, but so too was the play of his defensive core.  Limited cross crease passing and very few open opportunities for Detroit in the slot gave him the confidence to step up to the shooter and trust his teammates to clear the garbage in front.

Defensively, as noted, Columbus was sound.  I did have a few choice words for Johnson (for only just being Johnson) but my frustrations were limited to only a few plays.  Beyond that, the defensemen played their positions, stymied second chance efforts, and did a tremendous job keeping Detroit to the exterior of the zone, taking weaker shots on Mason.  The story of the the night was obviously Wisniewski, but a hat tip to Clitsome for three assists and John Moore for scoring his first ever NHL goal are an absolute must.  I plan to discuss what Wiz brings to the team, and how much his presence on the ice alone makes them a better team, but I'm going to break it down into another post, as it may get a bit lengthy.  In short, he is worth his paycheck.  In a big way.

Offensively, the Jackets FINALLY got their secondary scoring, and on a night when the top line simply did not find the net (although what a bad break for Brassard, hitting the post on that rebound!!).  Umberger, Johansen, and even Vermette were all firing on net and producing great opportunities, along with a stretch pass to Vermette who made a tremendous play on Conklin but couldn't find the back of the net.  I was slightly underwhelmed again by the efforts of Rick Nash, but Prospal and Brassard were flying around the ice, causing havoc and causing turnovers.  I don't know where it came from, but this mean streak that Brassard has acquired between getting dumped to the fourth line out of camp and now has really made him a strong asset for the Jackets.  It's been fun to watch, and will make Carter's return VERY interesting in terms of line juggling.

Finally, the atmosphere.  It was tremendous, especially during the high energy, long possession efforts by the Jackets.  It seemed like every time they generated a scoring chance and regained possession of the puck in the offensive zone, the crowd roared with satisfaction, not to mention during the final two minutes as they meticulously killed off a penalty and finished the game strong.  The crowd was 100% into the game, and the level of passion shown by thousands of die hard Blue Jackets fans certainly made an impression on me.

Three more games on the schedule this week.  I am sure there will be lots to share, but for now, I'll raise my glass to the fine effort shown by the Jackets tonight, and willingly admit that the Yuengling tastes twice as sweet.

Carry the Flag!

No comments:

Post a Comment