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Detroit Slaughters Columbus, 9-1

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Last season, when the Columbus Blue Jackets made it to their first ever Stanley Cup playoffs, they were put up against the Detroit Red Wings. The Red Wings easily swept the series, and they outright embarrassed the Jackets. This added fuel to what Columbus views as their biggest rivalry (convenient that we Ohioans hate everything from Michigan, thanks to some little war), and it was to serve as motivation for last nights game. The Wings were supposed to come into Nationwide Arena, and Columbus was supposed to get their revenge. Somebody, somewhere, didn’t get the memo.

Game Recap
Prior to the starting face-off of last night’s game, it was looking pretty good for Columbus. Their team was playing well, goalie Steve Mason looked to be back on his form, and the Wings were injured. With this in mind, the Jackets thought that they could easily handle the Red Wings at home. Obviously, the Wings didn’t think so. Just one minute into the game, Daniel Cleary (3) shot the puck past Mason. Two minutes later, Pavel Datsyuk (3) got a goal too. Quickly, the Wings scored in droves, as Kris Draper (3) and Niklas Kronwall (3) scored early in the period. After Draper scored, Mason was pulled for backup Mathieu Garon, which slowed down the Wings a bit.

Heading into the second, down 4-0, Coach Ken Hitchcock put Mason back in goal. It seemed as though he had lectured the players during the intermission, and that Mason, along with the rest of the team, was ready to play the game. A goal by Rick Nash (12) showed that the Jackets were not out of it, as they were able to keep on scoring. Alas, that was the only goal of the night for Columbus. Detroit took control again, and added more bodies to their massacre. Todd Bertuzzi (3), Ville Leino (3), Niklas Kronwall (4), and Justin Abdelkader (2 and 3) all scored, giving Columbus their worst defeat in franchise history.

Derick Brassard said it best: “At home, it is humiliating.”

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
The Good
While it is hard to find anything good in games like this, Nikita Filatov certainly was. The much acclaimed rookie has started the season out slowly, and has been scratched (healthy) for several games. Hitchcock was attempting to build him into a large force, something with skill, and a team player. Tonight, with 14 minutes on the ice (a new record for him), Filatov became that player. The entire game, even when down 9-1, Filatov was racing around, hitting people, fighting for the puck, and taking shots. Sure, the kid might not show up on the board, but he played damn well last night.

The Bad
Where oh where is the defense for the Jackets? Seriously folks, they didn’t even show up last night. With their two best defensemen, Mike Commodore and Jan Hejda, at -4 each last night, it is clear that the Jackets have a problem. This problem, which I have pointed out many times, is turnovers. Too often, clearing attempts were simply centering passes to Detroit players. The defense was unable to pass, clear, or even play their positions. They simply let the Wings dominate and control the puck, and this cost them the game. A good four of the goals could have been stopped with better defense, and this is unacceptable.

While four of the goals should have been kept away from the net by the defense, four are clearly the fault of Mason. The kid, who had an amazing season last year, is slumping, and he is falling hard. Mason seemed to be playing slowly last night, and he wasn’t really up for the game. This is a bad sign for Columbus, as they need their best goalie to be playing solidly 100% of the time. I don’t know what is going on in his head, but if he doesn’t clean up soon, it might be time to let Garon start more games.

The Ugly
Last night, fans of the Jackets started to mock goalie Steve Mason. They started cheering when he made basic saves, and it clearly hurt him: “Seeing the fans giving me the cheers when you’re stopping the easy long shot; it’s not a great feeling to get that from the home fans.” To the fans, I simply have to say, what the hell? While I understand getting up and leaving (though I never would), I do not understand the idea of mocking your star goalie. Sure, Mason made some major mistakes, but he is your goalie, and you better back him. If the fans are not behind him, then Mason is going to have a lot harder time coming out of his slump.

Looking Forward
On Friday the 13th, the Jackets will play host to the Anaheim Ducks. After Matt the Mask (Matt Garrett) started wearing his mask last year, the Jackets have become the team to watch for on Friday the 13th. Frankly, simply looking at the standings and statistics, this should be an easy game for Columbus. However, as they were just humiliated by Detroit, it might not be that simple. To win the game, Columbus has to either have a happy Mason (or Garon in net) or they don’t stand a chance. The Ducks will win if Mason doesn’t bounce back and man the pipes well.

Know Your Hockey
The New York Islanders
The New York Islanders are a National Hockey League team that was established in the 1972 season. As they are located, and play out of, New York, the team is one of 3 NHL teams in the Region. These close teams have rivalries, with the New Jersey Devils being the Islander’s main one. The Islanders play in Uniondale, New York (Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum) and are members of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference.

Since their founding, the Islanders have won four Stanley Cups, all in consecutive years from 1980-83. Due to this, the Islanders are one of nine teams that the NHL recognizes as a hockey dynasty. After the 84 season, they have never made it back to the finals. Recently, however, the Islanders have not even been making it into the post season. Lately, there has been a proposal to redesign and build up the area around the Coliseum, most likely using a similar set-up to that of Columbus’ Arena District (minus the new casino).

Columbus is 9-6-2, with 20 points, making them second in the Central (Chicago is first with 22 points) and seventh in the West. The next game for Columbus will be in Columbus against the Ducks on Friday, the 13th of November at 7:00 p.m. These two teams have met once this season, where the Jackets won it 6-4 at Anaheim.

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About Robert M. Barga