Monday, October 10, 2011

Recap: Columbus vs. Vancouver 10-10


For the first time in franchise history, the Blue Jackets are winless in their first three regular season games.   There really is no good way of stating that, but there are a whole lot of positives to take out of the first few games of the season that I will focus on rather than looking over the edge, and I strongly recommend people consider some of these thoughts before they quickly flush their CBJ interest down the toilet.

First, they played one of the league's best teams tonight in the Vancouver Canucks and put up a fantastic fight for more than two periods of hockey.  While there is a definitive need to find a full sixty minutes of effort and success each game, there were very clear signs of competitive hockey throughout the game.  Strong play left the first period with a clear edge to Columbus, but unfortunate events lead to a tie game (thanks a lot fantastic tip that barely clipped the top corner).  While I would hope that they could pull ahead during these stretches, that is simply something that will come in time.

Secondly, and this is a fantastic point by Scott Arniel in the post game tonight; This was the third game in four nights for Columbus.  That is a LOT of hockey to play, and their efforts certainly showed something negative in the third period, whether it was being burnt out or just bad hockey.  As someone who has played hockey before (not pretending the quality was this high, but I've played weekend tournaments that range from 4-6 games in a span of 3 days) I can honestly say the quality diminishes for teams who become worn out.  Again, this is not a clear cut excuse for a mediocre on ice product, but it certainly makes some sense based on their quality in the first two periods.

The third point I would like to make, is how the secondary lines have been useful after a lackluster start to the season.  The Umberger-Vermette-Brassard line was functioning and showed plenty of promise tonight, while the Dorsett-Pahlsson-Mayorov line did a tremendous job of causing the Sedin line to be all but irrelevant for LONG stretches of the game.  I really hope I don't need to go into detail explaining how impressive that is, but in short, it is not something that too many teams in the NHL can muster.

Finally, for the love of god, leave Mason out of this.  He made SOME big saves tonight, and let in three goals.  Goal one was a fantastic tip sending the puck from lower 5% of the net to BARELY clipping the crossbar before going in.  The second goal was again redirected by Hodgson who was left alone in front of the net.  The third and final goal was scored after he made the original save and the Vancouver forward was able to take an extra whack at the puck.  I can understand the expectations are high for Mason, but try not to get ahead of what really is happening on the ice.  He has made some very strong saves and given his team a fair chance to win the game early on.  It has to be a team effort.

Please don't take this as me sympathizing for their loss.  I bleed Columbus Blue Jackets hockey all season long and would love nothing more than for them to succeed and reach the playoffs for the second time in franchise history, but I am not of the mindset that badgering and throttling them for losing games like they did tonight will benefit anyone.  As I noted earlier today, I think it's high time we as fans of this team take a new line on cheering and really give them the support they probably desperately need to get beyond their current struggles.  Colorado is in town Wednesday and the time is now to get Columbus loud and support the team in their attempt to acquire their first win of the season.

Carry the Flag.

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