The Columbus Red Cross...err Blue Jackets... played hard and they played tough but their depleted lineup did not have enough to defeat the Detroit Power Plays...err Red Wings last night.
It was a gritty and determined effort but the failure to capitalize on early chances (how did Peca miss that open net??...uggh) and stay out of the box cost them a 3-0 decision. The Wings, like how they win every game, cashed in two PP chances in the 3rd period which completely swung momentum in their favor and they never looked back.
I give the boys tons of credit for competing hard with an AHL lineup and Steve Mason did everything he could stopping 37 shots but when you lose the type of players the Jackets have been losing (Brassard, Huselius, Klesla, Chimera, Torres and now Nash) the team and kid can only do so much.
The loss is one thing and has some ripples but the loss of Rick Nash to what is being speculated as a ankle injury could have a tidal wave type of effect.
We did hear some slightly good news this morning when Puck-rakers reported that the injury does not appear to be long term. I want to be optimistic here Jacket fans but color me skeptical when anything "ankle" related pops up in regards to any hockey player injury report.....I'm really worried it could be the dreaded "high ankle sprain" which can take months to recover.
What really stings for me is Nash was playing his best hockey as a pro....along with Mase he was really starting to put this team on this back and now this. As they say if the Jackets didn't have bad luck they wouldn't have any at all....
The good news for Nash is that he was named to the West All-Star Team. I believe that marks his 4th straight All-Star selection so congrats to him.
Although deep down I was hoping to be proven wrong Steve Mason indeed got the snub and was not named to the All-Star team despite leading the NHL in GAA (1.82), Save% (.934) and tied for shutouts (5). An inured Roberto Luongo was named despite just starting in 19 game versus Mason's 23 along with Niklas Backstrom whom Mason beats in every major statistical goaltending category besides starts (33) and wins (19).
Jean-Sebastian Giguere was voted as the starter despite his 36th ranked 2.96 GAA and 24th ranked .910 Save%.
Great representation of the NHL's best players eh? ...and the NHL wonders why nobody takes this popularity contest serious?
So goes the disrespect for the Jackets. There is still a chance Mase could get the nod if Luongo bows out due to injuries.
Finally Nikita Filatov has been recalled by the Jackets. The kid could use some more time in Syracuse but I think everyone will agree that the Jackets don't have a choice at this stage... lets just hope he doesn't join the list of walking wounded.
Hitch has to give this kid significant minutes this time around despite the inevitable rookie mistakes -- we absolutely must have this kid scoring to stay afloat.
Obviously the pressure on Howson has gotten even heavier... this prognosis on Nash will directly effect what he does. For instance say if Nash is out for the year does Howson still sacrifice the assets to try for a playoff push? Lets face it Howson won't be able to replace what Nash brings this season. Even if the Jackets add a Vermette or Kubina is that enough to make a push without a Nash and already out for the year Brass?
You don't want to throw in the towel for the year but at some point you have to step back and be realistic.
Putting my Howson hat one I think if Nash were to be out for an extended period of time (which sounds unlikely from what we know now) I think Howson would still make a minor move and then if the team is still hanging around at the deadline he'll be more aggressive.
I'm getting way ahead of myself though....first thing is first, and that's finding out how serious this Nash injury is.