Thursday night’s game between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Detroit Red Wings was one of the best, biggest, and most exciting hockey games that I have ever been to in my entire life. The crowd was roaring, the jeers were clever, and the beer was cold. Simply put, I have never seen Nationwide Arena jumping so much in my entire life; the crowd was so into it that for the first time ever (and the second, third, fourth … 20th) they actually chanted in unison. The Blue Jackets needed a win and the fans came out to get it going and to show respect and honor to their hard working players.
Even though they lost, the Jackets fans gave the team a standing ovation which is exactly what they deserved.
The first period was a roughly equal fare, as both teams hit well and controlled well. Both Detroit and Columbus had a few power plays, and both were able to convert on them. The only area where Detroit dominated Columbus was in shots on goal, and of their shots they were able to convert more. The scoring kicked off when, in the second minute, Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom scored on the power play. Not to be outdone, Kristian Huselius quickly scored back on Columbus’ power play. This quick response was what the crowd needed, as it fired them up. For the rest of the period, Jackets fans were on their feet and cheering loudly. Though both Tomas Holmstrom and Daniel Cleary scored midway through the period for Detroit, the fans didn’t really care.
Just like period one, both teams were roughly equal, and each converted on a power play. Rick Nash got his first playoff goal ever in the second minute. Columbus kept on scoring, and tied it up at three when R.J. Umberger scored his third goal in the fifth. But Detroit was not giving up and they quickly regained the lead when Marian Hossa scored twice within five minutes. Though this took the fans out of the game, they were not silent for long. With derisive chants of “Osgood Nogood” in his ears, Detroit’s Chris Osgood let in two late period goals, as both Kris Russell and Fredrik Modin scored for the Jackets. For the third time of the night, Columbus had tied the game.
The third period was where the action was, as Columbus came out playing like their tails were alight. Coach Hitchcock must have fired them up as they were playing amazingly and better than any point earlier in the season. The Jackets hit hard, stole the puck, and had tons of amazing opportunities. The only thing holding them back was the even more amazing saves of Osgood. This energy translated to the fans, as they were fired up. I do not think that I shut up, stopped clapping, or even sat down for the final 20 minutes of the game. However, all of Columbus’ energy was for naught, as in the last minute of the game they were called for too many men on the ice. Though this was a bad call, and Nash protested it for several minutes, it stood and the Jackets had to face the power play. With just seconds left, Detroit’s Johan Franzen converted and got the win.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
I do not believe that I have ever seen the Blue Jackets play as they did Thursday night. The boys, who were in a must-win (literally) game, played their hearts out. They hit hard, stole the puck, controlled it, and took shot after shot. They even broke Osgood, who finally let in several goals. Columbus played the best they ever had, and they were only screwed over by the refs, which are outside of their control. I expect an amazing team to come back next year, and one that will be a real contender.
In all of my previous entries on the playoffs I mentioned that the Jackets fans needed to show up; man, did the fans show up Thursday night. The stadium was rocking, the walls shaking, and the roofing flew off. Never before had the entire fanhood of Nationwide ever joined together in a unison chant, but they did it several times on Thursday. The fans were there, they were proud, and they wanted the win. Even without the win, they cheered the team after the game, and were generally appreciative. What I really liked, however, was the fact that fans threw beer cans onto the ice after the bad call at the end of the game. This showed a huge amount of desire in the fans, which is nice in a ‘non-hockey town’.
Though there were a few turn overs and bad passes, plus some really crappy reffing, the game was amazing, so nothing was ugly or bad
Know Your Hockey
Occasionally you might hear reference to the ‘Original Six’ of the NHL and ice hockey. Though these were not the first teams in NHL, or its previous incarnations, they are the first six teams in the modernistic version of the game. These six were the only teams in the NHL for 25 years, until the expansion happened which doubled the number of teams. Though the six have multiple championships, they are not known as dominating machines any more, with the sole exception of Detroit. The original six are the: Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, and Toronto Maple Leafs.
This season was a bittersweet one for me, and for all Blue Jackets fans. While we had limited expectations, and, like Chicago Cubs fans, expected nothing, we were all surprised by the playoff run. The season was one of many firsts, with the most points, several career records, the most home wins, and the most away wins. The 08-09 season is one of the best in the Jackets history, and one that will go down as the starting of a new dynasty. That said, however, it is sad that the season is ending, and ended on such a note. Here is to hoping that next season is even better.
While I will still be posting my predictions for each round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, I will no longer be posting any game recaps until next season. Please continue to check ABCs of Columbus Sports (http://blogcritics.org/archives/features/abcs_of_columbus_sports.php) for other local sports, including the Columbus Clippers.