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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

"Hey, at least they got a point"


I have a feeling that was what many folks were saying, including myself, after the Jackets lost in a shootout to the Dallas Stars to try to find some positives after a hard fought loss.

Still, as much as I tried to convince myself of the fact we did get a point, I kept coming back to the point that this squad really let one get away and even worse, let the Stars walk out of the Nat with with 2 points.

The was one helluva game to watch though. I've been to a couple of NHL playoff hockey games and that game last night had all the elements.

The hitting... The Jackets with 48 pounders while the Stars dished out 30.

The intensity... Not sure about the rest of you but I was on the edge of my seat the entire 60 minutes.

The ups and downs. Stars score 30 seconds in = down. Umberger two goals in just over a minute = up. PP in OT = up then down. Shootout = gasp.. down.

The atmosphere.. you could just feel the fans were into this one from the very start. They know what's on the line.

Certainly some positives and negatives to go around for this one.

STOPLIGHT GAME REVIEW


GREEN
* RJ Umberger. Regardless of his goals he's been the Jackets most dangerous forward the last few games. That did not change last night. Great to see him get rewarded for his hard play and willingness to sacrifice in front of the cage.

* Derek Dorsett. This guy should never be healthy scratched again. I understand some injuries factored in but I'd take him over 90% of our forwards right now. Great scrap too.

* Jared Boll. He's back to last year's Boll except he much better offensively. He landed some thunderous open ice checks last night and was generally buzzing around the ice all night long. When he and Dorsett were on the ice, Stars were looking over their shoulders and the puck was a hot potato.

* Andrew Murray. Yeah, another plugger... but again even though he didn't register a point I thought he played a very hard checking energy type game. He did his job... now about some other forwards.. more later.

* Commodore/Hejda... yeah, they got caught out of position on that first goal but you know I'll give these guys a mulligan. They bounced back and played strong.. combined for 14 hits and each played over 24 minutes.

* Fedor Tyutin. 26 minutes and again was just the mistake-eraser out there... god knows he has to be paired with Backman. He has gotten so good collecting dumped in pucks under pressure and quickly organizing a breakout.

* 2nd period. That might just be the best 20 minutes of hockey I have ever seen the Jackets play.

* Bouncing back after giving up that quick goal. Game could have really tanked from that point on but the Jackets quickly regrouped and dictated the play until the 3rd period.

* I hate to do it but Marty Turco matched the color of uni last night... he was phenomenal.

* PK was good... especially killing off those two early chances after the Starts got that quick lead.

* Really proud of the team in general for the intensity and level of play they brought.. yes there are certainly areas where they need to improve (which we'll get to in a bit) but this team (minus those first 3 minutes) came ready to play and battle.

* Dude with the hockey mask.. well done! I also liked the sign that said "Masonwide is on your side".. clever.

YELLOW
* Pretty good crowd for a Monday night at over 15k... in terms of loudness and atmosphere this is a definite green but with over 3k seats left to be sold for a game like this, it knocks it down to a yellow b/c I know Cbus can do even better.

* I'll give Mase a yellow. I think he'd like to have another chance at that first goal... but not a whole lot he could do on the 2nd goal or on Neal's shootout goal. Still a solid performance by the youngster.

* Video montage of the CBJ goaltending during one of the commerical breaks was solid. Would love to see more of that kind of stuff.

RED
* Goal against in first 30 seconds. Certainly not they way they game planned it!

* What is with the ridiculous turnovers by guys like Huselius and Williams... boys are trying to get too fancy with the puck. Make a move.. by a little time and then either pass or shoot. This is not the type of team that can get cute with the puck and win.

* Chimera needs to sit. The speed just isn't there. Would be nice if he'd throw a hit or two with that big body of his as well... especially in a game like this. If 5ft nothin 180 pound nothin Kris Russell is out hitting a guy who is 6'3" 200+ lbs there is somethin wrong.

* Time to break up Nash and Huselius... for whatever reason its ain't work lately. You better believe these are the two guys Hitch was referring to in his post game press conference. Neither have had much to show in the goal scoring department since the All Star break.

* Not sure why Voracek didn't see time in OT.

* In fact I agree 100% with Hitch that these forwards have to start producing... the play is there from the defense and goaltending... now the forwards have to up there game. Really everyone save RJ Umberger and the pluggers like Boll/Dorsett/Murray need to start contributing more.

* The powerplay.. yes it got a goal to get back in it.. but damn, the game is yours especially in that 4 on 3 in OT... the Jackets HAVE to score there. The PP has to do damage. Instead it looked absolutely anemic.... maybe one decent chance there.

* Backman was back to his usual self in the 2nd/3rd periods. It was fun while it lasted.

* Some very bad blown coverages. I haven't seen this team miss an assignment like they did on the Stars second goal in quite some time. Can't make those mistakes boys -- as they are incredibly magnified this time of year.

* Officiating.. honestly I didn't know what have the crap they were calling was on either side... and nice job with the mike fellas.

* How close can you get to scoring in the shootout without actually scoring? Just watch Williams and Huselius' attempts. Our skill guys have got to start cashing at those stages of the game. Points are too vital.

* The idiot who absolutely insists on playing a video when the crowd is absolutely roaring... which was the case last night when RJ scored his second goal... somebody tie this dude's hands behind his back... don't they get it that everybody stops cheering and watches when the play the video? If you have to play something jam some rock n'roll dude and let the crowd roar! The idea is to generate life in the building.. not suck it dry.

3 BRIGHT LIGHTS ON THE NIGHT
1. RJ Umberger. Is really hitting his stride.
2. Boll/Dorsett. These two played their asses off last night.
3. Crowd. The 15k that were there were loud and into it. Tremendous atmosphere.

So now about that Hitch quote:

"We need to address our group up front," Hitchcock said. "We want to be a playoff-ready team. We want to do damage in the playoffs. We really need to get more from them."

As Arace said in Puck-rakers there are lots of candidates here on the forward lines. However, like Arace, I believe these comments are directed at two guys: Nash & Huselius.

Why?

..because they get paid to score goals and neither have been. Nash has 1 goal in his lats 9. Juice has 3 over that span. Take away the Wings game for Nash and the Hurricane game for Juice and it gets real ugly. The thing about Nash right now is that he hasn't been getting a lot of chances either.

This is crunch time and everyone has to elevate their games, especially your best players.

With the loss the Jackets fall to 8th in the conference with 62 points.

Big picture though: The Jackets have taken 9 points out of a possible 10 in their past 5 games. I think everyone of us would have taken that and run 5 games ago.

Time to reset/refocus/refresh for a new run.

The St. Louis Blues are up next tomorrow. Toss the standings in your nearest trash can because this is a team the Jackets haven't beaten since last January.

-LTL

7 comments:

Rick said...

Totally agree with sitting Chimmer. Dorsett is a ball of energy and needs to play more. Boll gets more immpressive with each game. I know they had a flurry of shots last night, but Juice needs to shoot more often than pass. I swear to god he'll give me a heart attack if he keeps passing when he's that close to the net. Hitch said it'll be a wild ride and he wasn't kidding!

Wally said...

It was rumored Nash was sick the last few games, so I've been cutting him a little slack... but you'd think being this close to the playoffs, he'd be bouncing off the walls? Juice was doing drop passes to no one in particular & Nash just coughed up the puck over and over... Playing a cute game just isn't in the cards for these guys, at least not right now.

eplagge said...

LTL,

Completely agree with you.. our energy guys are playing the best of all the forwards right now.. however I would like to give a honorable mention to Peca.. He's been solid defensively and created a lot of the scoring chances, he's been a very dependable player for us.... Voracek is also getting better each game.. and Umberger has been insane as of late.. he really stepped up for Philly in the playoffs last year as well...

I think it's obvious but Torres and Chimera are still recovering and getting their groove back... Though I have to say Torres is getting better each game whereas Chimera seems to be stuck in 2nd gear.. I agree bench him for a game..

I have an observation for the top line.. First off I have to agree it looks like Nash is out of juice.. both Dallas goals where against his line.. .He's simply not hauling his rear-end back quick enough to help out our D. Should we bench Nash (to let him recover) ??

Secondly I think our first line has been exposed in a MAJOR way.... Watch the other teams coverage as of late... they are completely ignoring Malhotra (how many opportunities has he had now ??), they are putting 3 guys on Nash and Huselius and double shifting 1 player on Malhotra and a D-man (Since our D doesn't chip in often).. This completely elimates Juice from setting up Nash and vice versa... often leaving Malhotra open.. But as we have seen the chances of Malhotra finishing the 1-1 with a goaltender are slim... Malhotra has been exposed people.. he's done a great job, but I think other teams realize now that this is a 2 man line and they are completely shutting it down.. Our need for a top line center is painfully obvious now. Maybe we should put the really hot Umberger on the top line to see if it creates something for Nasher and Juice.. because the opposition will have to worry about Umberger...

-erik

theticK1118 said...

It was an extremely exciting game but you have to admit if you were there that all the crowd had to cheer about in the first 10 minutes were some minor hits and clearing the puck. But man when Umburger scored those goals the entire arena went from a car generator to a NUCLEAR POWER PLANT! I think the bottom line is that we didn't capitalize on our scoring chances, the shot count evened out towards the end but when we were tied at 2 and we had 20 more sog then they did, you no thats gotta be fixed.

GO CBJ!

JAL said...

Sorry guys, but are we dissing the same top line that notched 8 points against Carolina? Now we talk about breaking them up?

Huselius had a bad game and the line didn't click. How many points has this line generated in the second half? Let's be a little more far-sighted than that.

Nash is likely a bit under the weather, but let's not use an elephant gun on a mosquito here.

The quality of our problems as a team has definitely improved. ;-)

--JAL
A Shot From The Point

eplagge said...

JAL,

I don't think we are going to break up Nash and Huselius, although who knows that might work ?? But anyways, you are correct that in the long run Nasher and Juice have been great together, but now the heat has been turned up and they are not delivering.. normally I would agree with you and let it go.. BUT we only have 20+ games remaining.. I hate to use the tired old mantra, but your best players need to be your best players.. If we want to make it into the playoffs we can't accept the performance of Nash and Huselius as of late.. I think this offensive fluke has been affecting our top line for a while...

I am really curious to see what Hitch has up his sleeve for tonight, because the Blues have been pulling a Coyotes on us.. and unfortunately we play them 3 more times after tonight... argh..

LTL said...

Also just because a line gets points doesn't neccessarily mean they are playing well.

For instance are Jared Boll and Derek Dorsett not playing well b/c they didn't grab points the other night?

Of course not. Only Doug MacLean thinks that way (rimshot).

The line had its moments in Carolina.. Nash with a couple of nice feeds.. Juice with a garbage goal and an empty netter... but it hasn't been nowhere near as dominant as it should be.

Since the All Star break:

Nash - 4g, 4a in 10 games. 6 of those points came in 2 games. The 10 games before the ASB this dude was on a tear with 14p in 10 games.

Huselius - 3g, 5a in 10 games. 10 games before he had 11 points in 10 games.

More than stats we all have eyes and have watched these guys complete over this last stretch. The quality scoring chances for this line just haven't been there. They've been very week defensively, the chemistry seems off, Nash's energy level looks low and Juice is trying to get waaay to fancy out there.

We'll see what Hitch does with these guys tonight to get them back on track. I really wouldn't mind seeing Voracek on a wing with Nash and see how that works.

I agree with Hitch 100% on this one, I think these guys have a lot more to give and they are going to need it.

-LTL