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.
In what was a great night for Columbus, Vancouver had a horrible one. For the first time in franchise history, the Columbus Blue Jackets started a season off at 2-0. At the same time, for the first time in nine seasons, the Vancouver Canucks started off at 0-3. With their core resigned, their first playoff berth behind them, and this great start to the season, the Jackets are finally getting some respect – hey, even ESPN is finally talking about them. That said, however, with two more tough road games this week, the winning drive by the Jackets is going to cease.
As Blue Jackets’ coach Ken Hitchcock put it earlier this week, the game against Vancouver was a hard-hitting and hard-fought battle. The Canucks and their fans were in full panic mode and desperately needed the win. The Blue Jackets were happy and skating with overconfidence, and they looked like a juicy target. Vancouver figured that their third game of the season would be a turnaround point, and that after beating the Jackets, they could get back on track. They might have counted on beating the Jackets, but Vancouver didn’t count on Rick Nash as a play maker.
The game started off in Vancouver’s favor. Though they got an early penalty for a bad hit on Jared Boll, Vancouver was easily able to kill of the penalty. Then Henrik Sedin (1) started it off for the Canucks, scoring just four and a half minutes into the game. Though the Jackets were able to keep them out of the net for the next 16 minutes, the Canucks were easily controlling the puck.
The game changed, however, when in the 19th minute, Captain Rick Nash sent a puck flying across the crease towards Antoine Vermette (1), who tapped the puck in, tying the game. Though it was not credited as a shorthanded goal, the Jackets had only four men on the ice when it occurred, as Rusty Klesla was still standing in the penalty box (The Columbus Dispatch considers it a shorthanded goal, but neither Yahoo nor ESPN do).
The second period started off perfectly for the Jackets. Just two minutes into the game, Kristian Huselius (1) scored on a laser shot over goaltender Roberto Luongo. Three minutes later, Klesla (2) scored, followed almost immediately by a goal from Nikita Filatov (1). In just seven minutes and only four shots, the Jackets had scored four goals, and Rick Nash had picked up three assists – what a night. The Canucks then pulled Luongo from the goal.
Though a goal by Christian Ehrhoff (1) late in the Second stopped the bleeding, the Canucks’ fans were really out of the game. That changed, however, when Willie Mitchell (1) put one by goalie Steve Mason, making the game 3-4. It looked like the Canucks had a comeback brewing. Their hopes were smashed, however, when Fedor Tyutin (1) scored on a power play. Columbus had finally scored with a man advantage, and they had closed the door on Vancouver.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Rick Nash played absolutely amazing tonight. Though he didn’t get any goals, and still has yet to this season, he became a playmaker and a real team player. Assisting in the first three goals of the night, Nash made sure that his teammates were able to sink the puck into the net. Nash himself was surprised by his assists, stating that “Apparently Juice [Huselius] and I switched roles.” Furthermore, he served as a distraction all night, causing Vancouver to cover him instead of the man with the puck. This maturity is what Columbus needs in their captain, and it should help them win many, many more games.
The Blue Jackets might have been a model of efficiency (five goals on 24 shots), but they really need to work on control and not letting up. Too often, across-the-ice passes were intercepted, and simply dekes resulted in lost pucks. If the Jackets want to keep on winning, they need to buckle down in this regard.
Likewise, the Jackets need to play 100 percent the whole game. After scoring those four quick goals, the Blue Jackets just lied back and played halfheartedly. The team was scored on twice while doing this, and only stayed in the lead because of Mason’s goaltending abilities. Hitchcock still needed to shorten the lines to three tonight, as the team just couldn’t keep up. Somehow, the Jackets need to stop getting comfortable with the lead, and just keep playing like they didn’t have it.
Jared Boll is, for lack of a better term, the enforcer for the Columbus Blue Jackets. Playing on the fourth line, this kid hits harder, and fights more often, than any other Jacket player. So, when Darcy Hordichuk took him down in a late hit, you could tell that some damage was done. Boll had been checked into the boards, and was falling down, when Hordichuk checked into his head, leading with an elbow. After laying on the ice for several minutes, Boll was able to stand up and be pushed across the ice. Hitchcock explained that “He’s not good, some kind of concussion right now” and that he probably will not be playing this week.
Though Hordichuk only got a roughing penalty, his hit was dirty, and it was uncalled for. Thankfully, the rest of the team immediately responded, with defense man Mathieu Roy tying to throw down and Rick Nash later getting in a major check. There is no place in hockey for this sort of hit, and it only damages the players, and the league’s image. Hitchcock said it best: “I’m sure the league will be looking at the hit;” I hope they look at it, and I hope that they issue a suspension.
On Thursday, Columbus will be traveling to San Jose to play at 10:30 p.m. ET.
Know Your Hockey
The Original Six
Over the course of the next six articles, I will be briefly talking about a team from the Original Six. The O6 is comprised of the Montreal Canadiens (1917), the Toronto Maple Leafs (1917), the Detroit Red Wings (1921), the Boston Bruins (1924), the New York Rangers (1925), and the Chicago Blackhawks (1926). These six teams were the only teams that were members of the NHL when the 1967 expansion of the league occurred. Though only two of them (Montreal and Toronto) were original members of the league, they are still considered the O6. All of these teams have won Stanley Cups, and they are all considered the ground breakers, and forefathers, of modern hockey.
Columbus is 2-0-0, with four points, tied for first in the West. Vancouver is 0-3-0, with zero points, tied for last in the West. The next game for Columbus will be in San Jose on Thursday, October 8. San Jose and Columbus have yet to meet this season.
(Photo credit: AP/The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck)