I'll admit it.
I thought this game was over the second Brendan Morrow scored the first goal of the game in the 2nd period. Then when Dallas' Steve Ott scored again a little while late I was certain the Jackets would lose their 3rd in a row.
Boy was I wrong. I love being wrong in a case like this!
Once again the Columbus Blue Jackets proved that this year's version is not "the same old Jackets". Even a die hard like myself who wants to believe finds myself being very guarded regarding just what this team is capable of.
Two back to back road losses. Coming back to a town to play a team that we just played our guts out to but lost anyways? Only scoring 2 goals in the past 2 games? The road history of this franchise? The lack of ability to come back in games, especially on the road? Oh yeah, I thought this one was in the books once that scoreboard ticker hit 1-0, let alone 2-0.
Of course somebody forgot to tell the Jackets that who kept pounding away at it. Russel got on the board with his first NHL goal. Then Murray with his 3rd. Then Russell again....and finally, Nash with the empty netter. Oh yeah, rejuvenated, reinvented, re energized re-(insert what ever word here) Nikolai Zherdev was the catalyst for the comeback notching 3 assists - 2 of which were of the world class variety.
..and we can't forget Pascal Leclaire of whom without some "game saving" stops in the 2nd period this game would have been out of reach.
Lit it up
As much as I want to start with Kris Russell it was Nik Zherdev who once again took control of the Jackets' offense and went to work. Honestly, he is our best player right now - at least not including goaltender Pascal Leclaire. The Stars keyed on him all night long -- held him in check for the most part -- but then as he's been doing all year he created space for himself and the team and then set up two beautiful key goals. That cross ice pass he made to Russell between the forward's legs was nothing short of remarkable. Z is now tied with Rick Nash for the scoring lead and will no doubt take it away with the way he's been lighting it up.
Kris Russell. Dude finally got a goal...make that two! These weren't gimmes either... Both goals were him jumping up in the play looking for that back door pass.. not only did he get them (both courtesy of #13) but he converted them. HUGE confidence booster for this kid. A week ago I was ready to send this kid down as he seemed to hit a wall.....exactly why I'm not coach or GM of this team :) Lets see if the floodgates really open for him now.
Andrew Murray. Seriously this guy has played what, 6 games now and has 3 goals? He only played 8+ minutes last night and scored an absolutely huge goal. They aren't pretty but who in the hell cares right? We need more dirty goals from 3rd and 4th lines and Murray is giving us that. He also blocked 2 shots. No way you can take this guy out of the lineup - not a chance.
Coming from behind. It hadn't happened this year. The Jackets coming from behind by 2 goals in the 2nd period to win a game. Can't underestimate how big of a win this was, especially how it was accomplished. The boys dug deep last night to pull this one out. Very proud of this team.
Powerplay. Two more powerplay goals. Granted the 2nd one was with an empty net after the officials called a ridiculous penalty on the Stars -- the same one that happened to us against the Flames where the puck was deflected over the glass and ruled "delay of game". Believe me Stars fans, we know exactly how you feel. Anyhow -- two 3rd period PP goals against the #1 PK in the league -- well done..
Secondary scoring. Two goals from a defensemen and one from a 4th liner - yep, I'd say secondary scoring stepped up last night.
Pascal Leclaire. Stopped 31 of 33 shots. His play in the 2nd period salvaged this win for the CBJ.
Dim the light
I thought Brassard had a nice game last night. No points to show for it but looked better than anyone else we've seen in that #1 hole. Hitch will move him up and down the lineup no doubt but its nice to see he can run with it if necessary.
Boll. Great fight and finished up a +2. I'd love to see this kid get more ice time and play a little higher in the lineup.
Nash had that empty netter. Played decent. Didn't notice him at some points in the game but I thought he really battled in the 3rd. In fact I thought his best shift was when he was out there with less than a minute to go protecting that lead.....playing really physical and determined. Was great to see.
Tollefsen. I've been hard on Tollefsen the past couple of game but thought he played okay last night. No bad turnovers, was physical and made the smart play.
Novotny. Finally this guy got a point. He plays hard every night but doesn't get rewarded a lot times. He led the team with 8 hits!
PK was perfect again last night killing all 6 penalties against. Faceoffs were also on the right side winning 52%.
Hated the way the Stars got their goals. Both were the "in front of the net" dirty variety. The Jackets are usually good at clearing the nets but they weren't on the two Dallas goals. They did adjust and do a much better job of clearing out the front of the net later in the game.
David Vyborny. This guy is completely lost out there. Completely ineffective. Looks slow and has zero confidence. Almost reminds me of the fall Z took last year. I don't see Vybes getting the chance to rejuvenate himself here though -- but he'll get a chance elsewhere in the league.
Jason Chimera. Seriously dude, get a new move.
Officiating. Thought it was suspect both ways last night.
Dallas attendance. Please tell me how Dallas is ranked 12th in attendance. The Nat has more people than that on most nights and they are ranked 26th in the league. Me thinks someone is inflating some numbers ala Doug MacLean.
3 bright lights on the night
1. Come from behind win. Down two goals midway through an important road game and win? Yeah, I'd say that deserves a bright light.
2. Nik Zherdev - 3 assists and was once against the best offensive player on the ice. I hope this version of Z never goes away!
3. Kris Russll - two goals including his first ever NHL goal. Long time coming for "little shake". Couldn't be happier for the kid! ....and talk about important goals!
The Jackets move to 2-2 on this 5 game road trip. They play their final game on this trip before the All Star break on Thursday against the Chicago Blackhawks. With a win, it would be the most successful road trip in franchise history. With a loss, it wouldn't be a disaster but would leave this team thinking "what if".
The 'hawks will be coming off a road trip of their own and thinkin "must win" here. The Jackets will have their work cut out for them. Hitch game em the day off today after their effort last night. As great as this win was for the standings, the players and this franchise they'll need to quickly sweep it under the carpet and get ready for another tough tilt against a division rival.
Two more big points up for grabs - Jackets need to take them.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
I'll admit it.