Apparently, somebody sent out a memo about some sort of rivalry between Edmonton and Columbus. While I didn’t get this notice, the players, and coaches, obviously did. While I am used to seeing the Calgary Flames and the Jackets mix it up, nothing indicated that the game between the Jackets and Oilers would be a physical match up. Last night, to my surprise, both teams came out hitting and checking hard – and this led to two fights. Man, was this an old-fashioned, hard-hitting, hockey game.
While last night’s game was an immensely physical spectacle, there was little evidence of scoring in the first period. With only about 12 shots on goal in total, the two goalies were left standing around, picking at their teeth. Instead of playing hockey, all of the players were messing around with each other, picking fights, and throwing punches. While there were only two fights in this period (literally two seconds apart), most of the time was spent roughing each other in little scrums after the whistles. All in all, 44 penalty minutes were issued, with 40 of those being for physical altercations.
The second period, in direct contrast with the first, featured much more skill. Both Edmonton and Columbus had strong offensive prowess, and they both dominated for sections of the period. Each team had many good opportunities, and each was able to capitalize on them. Just seven minutes into the game, Anton Stralman (2) scored a goal, placing the Jackets in the lead. Only a few minutes later, however, Ales Hemsky (5) tied it up for Edmonton. Both goals were scored on power plays.
After losing the lead, Columbus came out into the third looking a bit rejected. They were slow to the puck, turned it over, and were playing badly (a common problem this season). The Oilers were able to capitalize on this, when Lubomir Visnovsky (5) scored just five minutes into the period. Now that they were behind, the Jackets started to play well again – this happens in most games for the Jackets, and is starting to make me think that they are better when down a goal. Shortly after lighting their own fire, Antoine Vermette (4) lit the lamp, tying the game up. This was the last regulation goal of the night, and, just like the two previous goals, both goals of this period were scored on power plays.
Entering overtime, the Jackets were playing like men-possessed. With the crowd on their feet cheering, the men in Union Blue were able to dominate for most of the five-minute period. While they were not able to score, they clearly were the dominant team. Entering the shootout, Columbus still had that upper hand. The Jackets used it when Fedor Tyutin and Jakub Voracek scored. Even though Ales Hemsky got on the board for Edmonton, the two goals for the Jackets locked up the win.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Mathieu Garon played an amazing game last night. With the team’s main goalie, Steve Mason, experiencing back spasms, Garon had to step up for the second time in a row. During the game, Garon made several amazing saves, keeping the Jackets alive. During the shootout, he was even better, sliding across the crease to make outstanding pad stops. Mathieu is now 4-1-0 for the season, and he advanced his shootout record to 18-4, which makes him second best in the league. Garon has been playing extremely well for Columbus, and will continue to do so throughout the season. There could be a problem with this, however, if Garon and Mason have a bit of a goalie controversy. For most teams this would be an issue, but for Columbus, I do not believe that it will be.
When I get up every morning, there are certain things that I check on. One of those is the Columbus Dispatch’s Blue Jackets section. While I normally just check up on the news, last night it was revealed that the situation between the Jackets and Nikita Filatov has gotten worse. Apparently, there is bad blood going on right now, and the young potential-star might be fleeing back to Russia. If this happens, it will be bad news for the team, and something that will resonate throughout the league. Reading this last night just stings, as the Jackets should be happy following a 4-of-5 winning streak.
On Thursday, the Blue Jackets will head to Texas to take on the Dallas Stars. If odd coincident serve as precedent, then the Stars should win. They have been winning every other game this season, and the Jackets are on a win night. Of course, the Jackets are on fire, and they probably will be a pretty tough team to beat. If Columbus continues to play well, and holds onto the puck longer, they should be able to win the game. 3-2 Columbus (in regulation).
Know Your Hockey
The Philadelphia Flyers
The Philadelphia Flyers are one of the oldest teams in the National Hockey League. Though they were not part of the original six, they formed and started in 1967 as part of the expansion. Though they have historic rivalries with the New York Devils and the New York Rangers, there rivalry with the Pittsburgh Penguins has been the hottest of late. The Flyers play out of Philadelphia (Wachovia Center) and are members of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference.
The Flyers are most famous for being the first expansion team to win the Stanley Cup. They won the mug in the '74 season and again in the '75 season. Even though they have been back to the finals five times, they have never won it since. While they have lately been making it to the playoffs, they have been beaten in the last two attempts by the Penguins, fueling the rivalry even more.
Columbus is 11-6-2, with 24 points, making them second in the Central (Chicago is first with 26 points) and sixth in the West. The next game for Columbus will be in Dallas against the Stars on Thursday, the 19th of November at 8:30 p.m. These two teams have yet to meet this season.
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