Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Game Recap :: Columbus vs Montreal 12/6

For a while there, they had me.  Another strong first period that did not get them ahead in the game, followed up with a decent second period, and then a third period designed more to hold a lead than to build on one.  Sanford once again making almost all the saves that needed to be made, and once again they leave the building with the other goaltender well into the .900s in save percentage.

I suppose the most troubling stat of the evening came at the hands of Columbus' top line.  It's always nice to have a stat sheet to refer to in order to see what kind of execution they had, and I am provided with the following:

Jeff Carter :: 0 goals - 5 shots on goal - 4 missed shots
Rick Nash :: 0 goals - 7 shots on goal - 3 missed shots
Kristian Huselius :: 0 goals - 1 shot on goal - 3 missed shots

That's about as bad as it could get for a top line.  They had their chances, with Rimer going bulgy eyed over a couple of chances that didn't bounce the right way for the Blue Jackets, but I am a firm believer in making your own luck, and the top line simply did not do it.  12 shots (or 43% of the total Columbus offensive output from last night) between Carter and Nash that actually hit Price, and none of them resulting in a goal.  19 total shots taken.  Obviously if they get twelve shots on a nightly basis their output is bound to change, but what gives?

The game itself was decent, although stretch passes and turnovers seemed to be the best way to generate offense, including an absolutely tremendous pass to Umberger from Nikitin (who keeps finding the scoresheet) that lead to Columbus' second goal.  This was definitely RJ's night, with four shots on goal, a goal and an assist, and lots of notable hard working plays that have been missing from his bag of tricks for half of a year now.

To Sanford, again, full marks for standing tall.  I still see some questionable tracking abilities on point shots, but his positioning seems to do a great job of making up for that, and arguably his best save of the night was his first save, which was a cross ice pass that was shot back to the opposite side, forcing him to swipe the puck out of the air with his glove.  He continues to provide the team with enough quality goaltending to get wins, and so far, minus maybe the Edmonton game, the team in front of him has stood fairly tall.  It was also nice to see his shootout efforts continue to improve, watching one shot fly high and wide, and stopping the final two attempts.

Dunce caps go to a few guys last night.  Wisniewski continues to play too loose with the puck, and was the main cause of the first goal scored by Montreal.  An absolutely inexcusable turnover late in the period that could have been the difference in the game.  Also Jared Boll, who managed to basically get a charging penalty on himself as Diaz ducked and he went flying body sideways into the boards.  Arniel gets a smack for giving Pahlsson twenty minutes of ice time without a shot on net, although I am sure he was playing his role as stay at home center.  And another dunce on Arniel for scratching Brassard in basically his home town..  Weak move there, on an otherwise small Montreal team, and a place that could easily light a fire behind Brassard.  And finally the refs, who seemed about three shades of clueless throughout the game.

In any case, a win is a win, and while the lead was lost, the win was achieved.  Hopefully the offensive punch can return Thursday against Nashville, who rarely gives Columbus a freebie.  Final roadtrip record of 2 wins and 2 losses, which would be fine for most teams, but in Columbus wants to have any shot at all of making the playoffs, that needs to change to 3-0-1.

Carry the Flag.

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