The Columbus Blue Jackets came into Wednesday's game hoping to get a quick rest at home, before heading out Thursday night for a game at Atlanta. The Jackets had had overtimes in their two previous games – a shoot-out loss to Pittsburgh and an overtime win in Washington – and they were hoping to have a game where they could sit back on their heels and get an easy win. San Jose is not the team to try that on, as they took Columbus to their third straight overtime.
With the fans roaring, the Blue Jackets took to the ice with determination and resolve. They checked hard, fought for the puck, and generally played very well. The Jackets were easily outplaying the San Jose Sharks, and they were making sure that it was obvious. Though they were not getting on the board, the Jackets were getting plenty of opportunities, and just barely missing. San Jose, however, was able to take the air out of Columbus' fans, when Joe Thornton (4) scored early in the period. Just three minutes later, however, Jason Chimera (4) lit the lamp for the Jackets, getting the crowd back into the game.
With the crowd back, the Jackets came out in the second looking for blood. San Jose, however, seemed to get a stern lecture in the locker room, as they easily handled the Jackets. The Sharks controlled the puck, kept the pressure on, and were playing like a much, much better team. This paid off for them, when Dany Heatley (10) scored on a power play. It looked like Columbus would lose, and it took the fire out of the team and the fans. Even two fights by Jared Boll didn't help to ignite the fans.
Though the two fights didn't bring the fans back, a power play goal by Rick Nash (10) did. His goal late in the second fired the crowd up, and really got them on their feet. For the rest of the second, as well as all of the third, the Jackets were playing like the better team, and the fans were shouting in admiration. Just like the first period, the men in Union Blue were playing exceptionally well, though they kept missing the goal by inches.
Though the fans were on their feet, and the team was rocking, the Jackets were unable to convert on any more opportunities. Heading into overtime, the team was looking for a quick finish, and a victory before heading out tomorrow. They didn't get it. Instead, San Jose kept them out of the net and forced the shootout. In the shootout, Dan Boyle shot high blocker on goalie Steve Mason, beating him, and grabbing the much needed two points. Columbus left with one point for the overtime loss, though they played as though they should have had two.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
After the Pittsburgh game, Coach Ken Hitchcock decided to mess with his lines. He bumped center Antoine Vermette up to the second line, joining him with Nash and R.J. Umberger. Frankly, I am starting to think that this was a very good move. The VUN line (see what I did there?) has been playing well, and they are putting up the numbers. Nash scored tonight, and the line also got points on Sunday in Washington. The three have a clear chemistry, and they always know where each other are. Vermette, as a strong play-maker, is a perfect accomplice for Nash, a skilled sniper. As long as these three continue to play together, expect the Jackets to start winning.
It looks as though goalie Steve Mason has finally started to emerge from his slump. After a huge rookie season last year, and a great start to this season, Mason had fallen into a grove. Sunday night, as well as tonight, Mase started to look like he was getting his game back. Squaring up to the puck, controlling his rebounds, and making amazing saves, the kid is back. As long as Mason continues to improve, the Jackets have a great chance this season.
Sometimes, you can just miss too many opportunities. Tonight, that was the case for the Jackets. With every rush, the Jackets were able to get a shot on goal. Most of the time, these shots went wide, even though the goalie was clearly beat. Even worse, the puck would often careen right in front of the net, where it should be easy to sink. Alas, there was either never a player there, or he just couldn't get his stick on it. This is both a good sign and a bad, as it shows that they are playing well, but not able to finish. If Columbus can start cleaning up the trash, they should be able to win many more games.
On Thursday night, the Blue Jackets will be travelling to Atlanta to take on the Thrashers. This, frankly, should be a pretty easy game for the Jackets, and they should be able to use it as a sort of break. The Thrashers are a decent team, though they are not up to the caliber as Columbus. Provided that the Jackets play like they did tonight, they should easily have the victory.
Know Your Hockey
The New Jersey Devils
The New Jersey Devils are a National Hockey League team that was relocated to New Jersey in 1982. They were founded in 1974 as the Kansas City Scouts, moved to Colorado as the Rockies in 1976, and then headed to New Jersey. The Devils play out of Newark (Prudential Center) and are members of the Atlantic Division of the Western Conference.
Since their founding, the Devils have won three Stanley Cups, all in New Jersey. Their most recent was in the 2002/3 season. The Devils are also regulars in the post season, and they have won their division five of the last eight seasons. The Devils have had some of the best players of the game, including goalie Martin Brodeur. Not only does Brodeur have three rings, but he also has the most wins ever, and is considered one of the best goalies of all time.
Columbus is 7-5-2, with 16 points, making them second in the Central (Chicago is first with 17 points). The next game for Columbus will be in Atlanta against the Thrashers on Thursday, the 5th of November at 7:00 p.m. Atlanta and Columbus have yet to meet this season.
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