Note from the author: while I will normally try to get articles up immediately following the games, any game on the West Coast will be delayed until the next day.
The Columbus Blue Jackets finally had things going their way. They had the best start in their franchise history, a strong showing by their young core, and enough depth to handle anything this season. Meanwhile, the San Jose Sharks were not looking happy. They had lost two tough games, and they were slumping. However, as this was their home opener, they needed to show the crowd something. Show them something they did, as the Sharks dominated the Jackets, and owned the game from the second period on.
After seeing his younger players struggle in the win over Vancouver, Coach Ken Hitchcock decided to switch up the Blue Jackets' lines for the game against San Jose. Dropping Center Derick Brassard to the second line, and promoting Antoine Vermette to the first, Hitch was hoping to spice up his offense. When Captain Rick Nash (1) scored his first goal of the season, and the Jackets went into the intermission leading 1-0, it looked as though the line switching was a good move.
Alas, it wasn’t. The Sharks, now with a chip on their shoulder, came out of the tunnel looking for blood. They quickly found it when Dan Boyle (1) and Dany Heatley (2) scored within the first six minutes of the game. Though Jason Chimera (1) tied the game up for the Jackets, it was clear that they were being outplayed, and that they were tired out. The Sharks proved this, as Marc-Edouard Vlasic (1) and Heatley (3) lit the lamp, bringing the scored to 4-2.
The third period was just as bad for the Jackets, as Devin Setoguchi (4) scored just a minute and a half into the period. Goalie Steve Mason was then pulled from goal, and Mathieu Garon was sent in to replace him. While Raffi Torres (2) scored on a power play to try keep Columbus in the game, they clearly were not anywhere near it. The Sharks were outplaying the Jackets, wearing them down, and revealing all of their problems on defense. When Heatley (4) scored his hat-trick goal (on a penalty shot), the Jackets had no chance at all.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
The Jackets had nothing going for them all game. San Jose, however, had Dany Heatley dominating on the ice. Heatley, who got the first star of the game, had three goals and one assist last night. He dominated in both the offensive and defensive zones, and showed why he is considered one of the better players in the league. If Heatley continues to play like this, and stays healthy, expect him to put up huge numbers this year.
Hitchcock said of Mason, “[He] wasn’t very good tonight.”
I always hate to criticize goalies (as one, I know how tough it is to be one), but Steve Mason just had a horrible night. Letting in five goals on just 20 shots, the kid had a 75% stoppage rating. This is a horrible stat, and indicates that he was not comfortable with his position all game. While I am sure that Mason will bounce back, the Jackets need to have him healthy and confident to have hope for the season. Expect Mase to start against Phoenix, and build up his confidence.
While the Jackets looked strong in their zone during the first period, they started to falter during the second and third. The defense could not stop the puck, they missed their checks, and they generally looked as though they were slogging through maple syrup. Time after time, the defense let Sharks through unmolested, and they just let them set up shop in the defensive zone. If the Jackets want to win a fair amount of games this season, they need to keep this from happening. You can not win games by letting the other team shoot whenever they want.
On Thursday, Columbus will be traveling to Phoenix to play at 9:30 p.m. ET.
Know Your Hockey
The Montreal Canadiens
The Montreal Canadiens (officially called Le Club de Hockey Canadien) are the oldest continuously operating pro ice hockey team (they just celebrated their 100th season last year). They are also one of the founding teams of the NHL (there are only two original members left), the only team still operating that formed before the NHL, and one of the six teams that make up the Original Six.
The "Habs" are the winningest team in the entire NHL. Though their last Stanley Cup was in the 1992-93 season, the team has won Lord Stanley's Mug 24 times, including once before the NHL came to be. All in all, the team has won the cup 25 percent of the time. The Canadiens are also home to many of hockey’s greatest names and inventions, including Jacques Plante and his goalie mask. The Canadiens play out of Montreal (the Bell Centre) and are members of the Northeast Division of the Eastern Conference.
Columbus is 2-1-0, with four points, tied for first in the Central. San Jose is 2-2-0, with four points, tied for first in the Pacific. The next game for Columbus will be in Phoenix on Saturday, October 10. Phoenix and Columbus have yet to meet this season.
Photo credit: AP Photo/Paul SakumaPowered by Sidelines