Last week, the Columbus Blue Jackets smothered the Calgary Flames in a game that should have been in Calgary's favor. The refs tried to hand them the game, but Columbus was able to swipe it away. Last night, however, Calgary was seeking to get their revenge, when they took on the Jackets at home. Hard checking and blistering shots were in order, as the Flames just burned down the Jackets, grabbing the two points.
Man oh man, did the Flames want that revenge. They started the game off hungry, and they quickly took control of it. Columbus was smashed into the boards, couldn't get the puck and, when they did, quickly gave it away. Calgary was simply dominating, and quickly used that to their advantage. After a bad turnover in their defensive zone, Daymond Langkow (2) was able to quickly score on the Jackets. Just a minute later, Curtis Glencross (4) lit the lamp. It clearly looked as though Columbus was beat, and that they were in for a horrible game.
But, somehow, Columbus managed to turn it around. Facing a 5-on-3 power kill, Columbus' captain Rick Nash worked hard to keep the puck out of his end. His persistence and work paid off, when he got a steal, and scored his fourth goal of the season, this one was double shorthanded. Jay Bouwmeester (1) then scored, giving Calgary a 3-1 advantage as they headed into the first intermission.
Columbus came back during the second pumped up, and ready to get back into the game. They were embarrassed, and their star goalie was being destroyed – it was time for Columbus to play. Using two power plays, Columbus' Derick Brassard (1) was able to score (about bloody time), as was Jakub Voracek (2). Columbus had tied the game, and taken the fans out of it. They were controlling the puck, dominating in the zone, and checking well. It looked like Columbus would quickly take the lead.
That, of course, didn't happen, as Dion Phaneuf scored his fifth to stop Columbus' rally. The Flames continued to pound it into Columbus, when Jarome Iginla (3) and Fredrik Sjostrom (1) scored. Calgary no longer needed to worry about scoring, all they had to do was defend. Defend they did. Calgary shut down Columbus, kept them out of the offensive zone, and generally controlled the game. It was over, and Calgary had gotten their sweet revenge.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Both the power play and the power kill were very strong for Columbus. Though the kill was strong last year, the play had been lacking. This year, both are greatly improved, and both are leading (or close to it) in the entire NHL. Columbus scored on two of their seven advantages (28.6%) and killed off all five that they faced. Not only did they kill off five, but one of those was a 3-on-5, and they managed to score on it. If Columbus continues to dominate while either up or down a man, they should start committing penalties just to get there.
Steve Mason is probably one of the best goalies in the entire NHL. He won Rookie of the Year last year, and he was third in the Vezina Trophy voting. This season, however, Mason has been presenting an alternating front. Some games, he plays amazingly. Others, he just doesn't seem to be thinking about the game, or even there: “He struggled. He really struggled,” coach Ken Hitchcock said of him. "Mase has the power to be one of the best goalies this year, and he needs to be, if Columbus wants to win."
Where the heck was the defense during this game? While I understand that the two main defense players were out and injured, I don't understand how any NHL level defense man can play as badly as the Jackets did. They played sloppy, turned the puck over, and scored two of the goals on Mason (skates kicking pucks plagued Columbus last year too). The defense had no control of the game, and they simply played like they were in Syracuse and the AHL. If Columbus wants to win again, they need a much, much stronger defense.
On Thursday, the 22nd of October, the Jackets will be playing the Edmonton Oilers in Edmonton. While the two teams have not met this season, they do know each other quite well. Both teams have been playing well this season, and they are both strong teams. Expect the game to be a contest between Mathieu Garon (backup goalie for Columbus, and former goalie for Edmonton) and Nikolai Khabibulin (goalie for Edmonton). Whichever goalie makes the most saves will win in this close game.
Know Your Hockey
The Boston Bruins are one of the oldest teams in the National Hockey League. While they were not one of the founding members – the Bruins were founded in 1924 – they were one of the teams operating at the expansion and thus are considered members of the Original Six.
The Bruins have the second most Stanley Cups for an American team, at five, though it has been 37 years (the 71-72 season) since they last won one. After missing the playoffs for several seasons, the Bruins came back in 2007-08 and 2008-09 to lose in the conference semifinals. The Bruins have produced several well known players and Hall of Famers, but none recently. The Bruins have also produced some of the most memorable plays in ice hockey, including “The Goal” by Noel Picard.
The Bruins play out of Boston (TD Garden) and are members of the Northeastern Division of the Eastern Conference.
Columbus is 5-2-0, with ten points, making them second in the Central. The next game for Columbus will be in Edmonton against the Oilers, on Thursday, the 22nd of October at 9:30 p.m. Edmonton and Columbus have yet to meet this season.