Friday, November 18, 2011

Game Recap :: Columbus vs. Boston 11/17

At some point in the last couple weeks, my expectations for the Blue Jackets on ice quality changed.  Admittedly I am still in the opinion that when playing to their potential, they can compete with any team in the National Hockey League, but that effort is so rarely seen, it's hardly even worth discussing at this point of the season.

They took the ice last night, but they didn't really show up.  More perimeter hockey for long stretches of the game left me bored and frustrated, and once again the secondary line of Letestu, Johansen, and Prospal appeared to be the most effective line for the Jackets.  I was pretty surprised when they didn't come out with lots of passion, as they have brought their dads on the trip to watch the suck.  I can remember playing in front of my dad as a youth and I will readily say I fought with every ounce of effort to get into his good graces.  It would seem those days are gone for most of the Jackets players.

A hot topic for most of the night was the success that goaltender Curtis Sanford had between the pipes, which is true.  With that said, I think there was a lot of overreaction regarding what his spot in the depth chart should be.  Certainly he played well enough to win THAT game, but he faced a truly listless Boston team that really didn't force him to make more than a handful of tough saves, including a couple shots in overtime that more hit him than forced him to make an actual save on the play.  If you want to gage the true quality of the Boston play, look no further than Joe Haggerty breaking down the weak effort by the Bruins on Bruins Talk.  With that in mind, I have to look at this next laughable quote from Portzline who apparently wasn't watching the same game as Haggerty or me:

@APortzline: No matter the outcome, #CBJ G Curtis Stanford has given his club the best played game in net this season.
I don't mean to laugh, but this thought is flat out ridiculous.  All three of the Jackets wins came on solid if not excellent games by Steve Mason.  I have long been criticized in my defense of Mason during his bad games, but I would be shocked to see someone put any of those wins side by side with this game and say Sanford came even close to seeing the same quality of shots Mason did.  It's no wonder people read the above quote and think the Jackets have found a real gem in a career backup.

I do think it is important to get Mason out of games and let him recharge.  My off-season wish was to see the Jackets acquire a solid secondary goaltender who could steal time from Mason and force him to play competitive hockey. While I think Dekanich has those tools, his injuries have exhausted much of that opportunity and while Sanford didn't fall apart last night, the best save remained in the hands of Marc Methot, who took one off the calf while Sanford was laying on the top of the wrong side of the crease.  I wouldn't mind seeing them give Sanford the next start, but I really hope they didn't put too much weight into his effort against Boston.

Now on to the Carter 'stuff' that has been floating around.  Apparently people didn't get enough out of the "Carter hates Columbus" word vomit this summer, and have resurfaced complaints regarding his lack of interest in playing there and an unconfirmed request for a trade.  What IS true, is that he has had a pretty mediocre start to the season, but what Jackets forward hasn't?  He had some real opportunities to score on Rask last night, and made a few great plays with the puck.  In my books, he was more relevant than captain Nash, who had all of maybe one real gem of an effort that lead to a post being rung.  That said, I am not going to focus on his efforts on ice.

The simple point remains that Columbus and the fanbase fought like crazy to acquire a top line center, and they have one now.  One who is locked into an extremely reasonable contract (locked in a 5.27 million for the next umpteen years) and has the potential to be on one of the most explosive lines in the National Hockey League.  Unless they were given a golden farm by another team, I see very few scenarios where he finds himself leaving Columbus.  He and Nash are just going to have to find ways to be more successful when on the ice.

I think last night was yet another step in the wrong direction. Where the Minnesota game featured one competitive period from the Jackets, last night featured a Boston team content on stooping to Columbus' barely competitive level, and sneaking out the win in the shootout.  It would seem that I fall into a rather small percentage of the viewership in thinking they did not play well, but what I saw was not a team at the top of their game.  They came out pretty flat, failed to take advantage of some really awful defensive breakdowns from Boston, and never bothered to close out the game while it was being delivered on a silver platter.  Is that really the kind of hockey you think they should be playing?

Carry the Flag.

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