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Monday, January 19, 2009

Jackets find a way


The Jackets have been finding a lot of ways to win lately. Last night was no exception as the Jacket won a wild one in Vancouver 6-5 in a shootout.

The game was setup to be a tough physical affair and it certainly didn't disappoint. There were hard hits and a couple of scraps and generally open ice was hard to come by.

What did surprise was the sheer amount of goals put on the scoreboard....especially considering the goaltending talent that was at both ends of the rink. 10 regulation goals in a back/forth game that ultimately took shooters to decide the outcome.

The game also marked the return of Jackets' captain Rick Nash....and thank you for that! He was a monster notching 1g, 2a and a shootout goal to seal this one. I think its safe to say that at some point not to long ago, Nash elevated his game and hasn't looked back. He now has 42 points in 41 games including 17 points over his last 11 contests. He has unquestionably and consistently been the franchise player we'd all hope he'd become over that stretch.

There were lots of other stories from the game so lets jump right into the review.


STOPLIGHT GAME REVIEW


GREEN
* Rick Nash... see above.

* It wasn't pretty but the Jackets found a way to get two key points on the road against a very motivated team in Vancouver who had lost 6 games in a row at home. Previous Jackets teams would have showed up and taken their beating -- not this one, not now. As Commodore said, its not always going to be a Picasso but I'll take that 2 points anyway we can get it.

* Everyone contributing. 5 goals were scored by 5 different players. All were different plays. You had the tic tac toe passing on Manny's goal. The PP one-timer by Williams (yes I said one-timer). The wrister from just outside the dots by Commodore off a great play by Umberger. The dirty gritty goal in front of the net by Torres. Finally the wrap around by Nash after Peca/Huselius made great plays up high. 1 PP and 4 even strength goals.

* PP came through with a very timely goal after the Jackets went down 3-1. That was the exact type of goal the Jackets need from their PP. It gave them a spark that I think was the biggest reason the Jackets salvaged two points from this one.

* We saw what we all hoped for when Howson acquired Jason Williams last night. He delivered on the PP and he delivered in the shootout. How about that right handed shot from the PP and a one timer no less? That quick release and accuracy of that shot had me salivating. He has also stepped up his physical game which we can only hope continues after the "new car smell" wears off. That shootout goal was something special as well -- especially with a half swollen eye.

* Gare was right on with Boll's fight... that was well timed and also added a spark. With all his yapping..who got the last laugh last night Hordichuk? Boll had a nice feed to Torres for his goal as well.

* OSU vs. OSU. I didn't realize that there was a rivalry between Kesler and Umberger.... nice to see Umberger step up.

* This is BY FAR the best hockey I've ever seen Manny Malhotra play. Be contract motivation or whatever -- got to ride this horse.

* Actually all the Jackets played a tough game... nobody backed down.. everyone got their hands dirty... that was a team out there.

* Great call to dress Tollefsen for this one... his edge was needed and he played okay.

* Commodore and Hejda each a +3. These two just do not get enough credit for the way they have been playing this season. Hejda is now a +18 while Commodore is a +13.

* Huselius has really stepped up his game of late and made a fantastic play to keep the puck in the zone that eventually led to Nash's goal. He now has 31 points in 42 games.

* Mase was great in the shootout stoning both Vancouver shooters. He also played well at the end of the 3rd to secure a point for the good guys.

* Another OT win. I need to look up and see how many that makes but I believe we are well above .500 in OT situations at this point which is a drastic improvement from last season.
* Jackets are 3-0 versus Vancouver this season.

YELLOW
* 5 goals against is never a good thing. As Hitch and everyone said after this one, the Jackets were not able to control or contain Vancouver's offense -- especially the Sedins who seemed dominant everytime they were out there.

* Bad break on the tying goal when Mason's clear bounced off of Nash and in.

RED
* Goaltending on both sides was sub-par. Mason didn't give up horrible stuff but he's stopped shots like Pyatt scored on last night.. and he overplayed Sundin roofer a bit. Nice to see the Jackets get him some goal support.

* Officiating was bad. How can the high stick to Williams go unnoticed? Or the cross check to the face of Dorsett? Or Nash getting hauled down from behind... Or Russell getting hooked in OT on a partial break-away?
* Was it just me or was Rimer apologizing for Luongo's performance all night long? I know he used to call Panthers game but we get it... he had an off night.

* Need to be much tighter defensively.

* I thought the Jackets were toast when they went down by two.

* Gave up that point to Vancouver.

3 BRIGHT LIGHTS ON THE NIGHT
1. Rick Nash.....the monster returns.
2. Team scoring/effort
3. OT win on the road

You hate to give up that point but all things considered you have to be happy the Jackets were able to grab two points from that rollercoaster. I just can't stress enough what the environment had to be like to play in -- a team that is winless at home in its past 6, their franchise goaltender just returned, they are slipping in their playoff race -- that was a must win for those guys but the Jackets showed again that they aren't rolling over for no one!

The win moves the Jackets up to 9th place with 48 points which is 1 point out of 8th Edmonton (who they play tomorrow) and just 3 points out of 5th place.

As Nash said in his post game interview, having a chance to win every night makes things a lot more fun. A lot of those guys in that room have waited a long time for this. Still a long way to go though.

The great news is that team looks to be improving as the season rolls along...unlike last year when they started off hot and then fizzled.

-LTL

3 comments:

Max said...

LTL, you forgot to mention the vicious slash Juice took in the OT period. The way I look at it, Vancouver had two flukey goals, the one off Nash and the one before that where Kessler made a good pass and the scorer potted the goal in an unlikely position. Mason's cooled off a bit, but let's face it: the kid has started 13 straight games... After an abbreviated training camp and doing very little over the summer, his stamina definately isn't where it should be. Let him rest rest rest over the All-Star break. I remember a couple years ago we were riding Norenna pretty hard, the All-Star break came, and he was revitalized.

LTL said...

Oh yeah... forgot about the Juice slash Max and that may have been the worst of them all.. unnacceptable that stuff like that goes uncalled.

Also good point about Mase.. kid needs a rest. Would mind seeing Dubli--I-can't-spell-the-rest-of-his-name tomorrow night.

-LTL

Rick said...

LTL,
Just call him "Dubie", it's easier.

As for last night, the only words that come to mind are: Determination, Dug In and Chemistry, Chemistry, Chemistry!

We are seeing, on a daily basis, the end results of having a GM like Howson at the helm of this ship.

I think Danny Gare said it best last night:

"Bingo, Bongo... Right past Luongo!!!"