Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Recap :: Dallas vs. Columbus 10/18

These are starting to write themselves.  Columbus begins the game while an anxious (and generally prepared for a disappointment) crowd watches on.  Kudos to the 9,157 other fans that joined me tonight at Nationwide instead of watching with the feet up at home. Despite outshooting the opposition 24-11 through two periods of play, the Jackets found themselves in a hole thanks to a ridiculous overcommit by Radek Martinek which gave Steve Ott a free shot from a high scoring area, beating Steve Mason about mid-level on the glove side.  Certainly one he would have liked to have back.

The third period offered no favours either, with Jamie Benn being left alone by Rick Nash (backchecking is only mostly overrated) took an inexcusable turnover by Aaron Johnson and beat a rather surprised Steve Mason after dragging the puck all the way through the slot.  Hard work brought the Jackets within one goal thanks to Brassard scoring his first of the year on a powerplay rebound, but the Stars came rolling right back thanks to more questionable defense by the Jackets.

Thoughtful of Kris Russell to bang home a fantastic point shot to bring it to within one again, but silly errors by Grant Clitsome spoiled the final two offensive pushes by the Jackets and once again, that 2-3 final score flashed before my eyes.

I've got fingers pointed in a number of directions, but I won't get ahead of myself too quick with the negative.  On the positive note, I think Kris Russell had another noticeably decent game, scoring his first of the year and making a tremendous play to avoid the empty netter in the final minutes of the third period.  Certainly when it comes to the Jackets defense right now, upwards of five spots seem to be as solid as jello, and I think Russell has done a fine job of making himself a strong candidates for one of the six.

On the other hand, Grant Clitsome has seemed to string together a series of truly mediocre games, making himself noticeable in a number of key situations, and faltering heavily on more than one occasion.  Specifically, I can think of two within the last two minutes that were definitively glaring, coughing up the puck to Dallas while fiddling around at the blueline almost leading to an empty net goal, and then skating up the ice with the puck only to fire up down for an icing call with 18 seconds left on the clock thanks to no passing options.  Frankly, I am disappointed.  Between the bad decision making while looking for the pass, and skating across the blueline to shoot on net only to STILL find a shin pad, Clitsome and his excellent name are dropping heavily on my depth chart.

Hard to not be positive about forty shots on goal, but were they all that tremendous?  I think rebounds and forcing difficult saves on account of traffic were two scenarios that Kari Lehtonen did not have on his mind.  There were some solid shots, along with some absolutely atrocious misses (Pahlsson, I am looking at you after receiving a great pass from behind the net and missing shortside with at LEAST 40% of the net to work with) leaving me once again somewhat underwhelmed with the effort offensively.  40 shots are great, but make them 20 GOOD shots, and I'll be a happy guy.

Defensively I still don't understand Arniel's logic.  The center seems to follow the puck regardless of how deep the puck goes in the defensive end, as well as at least one of the defenders typically.  This leaves the two wingers dropping from the point down to pretty much the faceoff circle.  I can certainly understand closing down the scoring zone, but when the passes reach the point (and more often than not they do) it leads to an excellent opportunity for the opposition.  I just don't get it, and I can't get on board with that kind of coverage.  I am tired of seeing that passing option.

Offensively I thought Brassard had a great night, along with the entire Giroux - Vermette - Prospal line which was an absolute pleasure to watch at times.  I know people are getting down on Brassy a bit for losing the puck and falling over, but I see that as a guy who is giving it everything he's got, trying to do a little too much to create a scoring opportunity.  In time, if he keeps up that level of confidence, I think those efforts will turn into excellent scoring opportunities (assuming all of these trade rumours are just rumours).  I also have a bit of a bone to pick with Nasher, but there will be plenty more on that when I get a chance to sleep on some of the thoughts brewing in my head.  I understand he's the face of the franchise, so I will be making a point of picking my words carefully.

Finally, Steve Mason.  Certainly the kid would like to have goal one back, but it was a solid shot from a scoring position with no defensive coverage to back him up.  The other two, well, 18 shots, and I think I could think of at least 4-5 that should have never even come close to Mase.  I am getting a bit bored of the fan base claiming that he needs to be traded, so I won't really go into depth on this, but I felt that he gave them a chance to win again tonight, making a few very tough saves to keep them above water.

Carry the Flag!

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