As the season progresses, keep 9:34 PM EST on November 29 in the back of your mind. That was the time that the CBJ closed out a magnificent 3 -0 victory over the Washington Capitals, but more importantly, it signified several important milestones:
1. A Complete Effort -- 60 minutes of hard charging, smart, tough hockey. No scrambling, no big blocks of time where we fell asleep. Stifling defense, lots of motion in the offense.
2. A Team Effort -- While Nash, Mason and Hejda received the stars, this was a victory shared by virtually the whole team. Torres, Murray, Malhotra, Modin, Chimera all played hard nosed, hustling hockey at both ends of the ice. Commodore, Russel, Tyutin were all huge and Backman showed more. We supported in all zones, and played with a calmness that we have not yet seen.
3. A Display of Character -- Less than 24 hours after a gut wrenching loss that would have sent us into a tailspin in years past, we came back against a hot, tough opponent, and not only won, but dominated throughout the game. A lot of guys grew up in the last 24 hours, and it showed tonight.
4. A New #1 -- Forget the politically correct sound bites for the media -- Mason is the #1 goalie, at least for now. He stared down Ovechkin and came out on top several times, three during a brief 2nd period flurry for the Caps. His calmness and focus are what we need right now. Let's be honest -- Mason will have some bad runs, and Pazzy will get over his current bad run. No need call for Leclaire to be run out of town, or to put Mason on the pedestal. We are fortunate to be in this situation, where Pazzy has time to work through this bad spell, while Mason continues to shine. Rookie of the Month for November???
No guarantees, but mark this date down as the day the Jackets became a team, found some identity, and took a big step forward. Bravo!!!