It's not very often that you can say the Columbus Blue Jackets
have embarked on a very important road trip. Having dismantled the Detroit Red Wings just two nights before, using common logic one could deduce that the Blue Jackets may be starting to build momentum. Where the encouraging victory would lead them, however, follows a common theme.
The Blues did not register a shot on goal
in the third period against Nashville Saturday night, nor did they register a shot in the overtime period. They were completely dominated in the final stanza and more, and fell 2-1. Sunday's game at home marked their third game in four nights. Columbus, flying the short trek from Detroit to St. Louis on Saturday, should have had a physical and mental advantage.
Nah. Think again.
The Blues probably would have checked the Blue Jackets in the pre-game skate
if it were allowed, considering the way they flew out of the gate. They hit everything that breathed, and had a seemingly easy walk through the sixty minutes of tonight's game, winning 5-1.
Don't look now, but newly-named Blues captain Eric Brewer (yeah, say it: that
Eric Brewer?) registered four assists in tonight's game. The Blues shook off their offensive woes from Saturday night and used their league-worst power play to light up the league's third-best penalty kill for three goals. It was the story of the night.
Pascal Leclaire got little help from his defensemen tonight
. There were too many loose pucks in the slot, crease and countless failed clearing attempts that looked all but elementary. How the Blue Jackets can come off a game with so few mental mistakes and regurgitate a week's worth into one game is a startling thought.
The highlights will reveal the nature of four of the five goals scored by the Blues. Poor quality shots, deflections and/or plays that should have been erased by the Blue Jackets' defense. Andy MacDonald's third period breakaway goal on a power play speaks for itself. How they could allow a breakaway on a power play is baffling. Either they just brain-farted, or they're really starting to like coach Ken Hitchcock's forechecking policy.
I'll take the former.
On the other hand, Rick Nash's shorthanded goal was of a "fluke" nature as well.
Where he came from, or how Jan Hejda's clearing attempt found his stick are points for deep, ponderous thought. It made little difference in the grand scheme, as the Blue Jackets couldn't draw many power plays of their own. Their lackluster offense has been bolstered only by their power play, which has began to heat up in the presence of a certain Richard Tarnstrom. The absence of their only relatively-potent weapon only caused more problems for them in this game.
The top line of Rick Nash-Sergei Fedorov-Fredrik Modin
was the lone bright spot on the night for the Blue Jackets. Fedorov's ability to transition the puck smoothly through the neutral zone was a sight for sore eyes, and his presence in the slot allowed Nash and Modin to work well in the corners and behind the net. If anything else, that line should steadily improve as it is most likely to remain intact for the foreseeable future. That is, barring any player movement...
Dan Fritsche didn't seem too keen on scrapping with Barret Jackman
late in the third period, but the Parma native gave the wily veteran a wake-up call. He did the right thing standing up for his goaltender, but it seemed to be poor judgment by Jackman to drag it out in the late stages of a 5-1 game.
A very important note here. This Wednesday on the "Fire the Cannon" podcast on Hockeybuzz, Blue Jackets color analyst Danny Gare will join us at 7 pm. Be sure to send in questions to either myself or Eric, and use the call-in information to get into the show. Hope to see you in there.