Sorry that this review of the Calgary game is so late, but late night and busy day put the squeeze on the available hours.
If you had come to me yesterday and said that the Bluejackets could have 1 point for the Calgary game, no need to play, just go off to break, I would have snatched up the opportunity like a $20 bill lying on the street. Once word got out that both Juice and Peca were out, and Filatov was not available to fill the void, things looked bleak.
The Jackets are proving every night that we need to scrub our brains of past teams' tendencies. In any prior year, this one was destined to be a 7 - 1 drubbing. These guys just don't care about the fans' collective memories -- they just want to win. For anybody who wants to climb on the old "these guys don't play like they care" wagon, just replay the tapes of the last 12 games, then shut up. These guys care deeply, are giving it everything they have, and are getting results beyond what reason would indicate was possible.
Last night the Calgary Thugs, I mean Flames, threw a gaudy home record, a lot of speed, and some of the dirtiest play I have seen in some time at a wounded and exhausted Jackets club, and we battled them to an effective draw. Sure we gave up 4 1 goal leads, but who would have expected us to score 4 goals in the first place?
Credit to the officials for doing the right thing on the Phaneuf hit, but equal shame for not doing precisely the same thing on the Regher cross-check to Dorsett's face. As many penalties as Calagary drew, they deserved more. Just before the penalty was imposed for hooking Russell, the officials missed a high stick and a slash. We could have been on a 5 vs 3 for most of the period. It is baffling to me why a team with such skill resorts to the caliber of play they do. Fortunately, the NHL is taking its own look at the Regher hit. About time . . .
Here are the +/- for the game:
+ Team Effort -- Having every reason to lie down and just get on with the All-Star Break, the team refused to do it. They played with a lot of grit, stood up for each other, made some great plays on offense, and showed a lot of character. Hitch has to be proud.
+ Offense -- 4 goals by 3 different players, lots of pressure and some great chances. While our defense impacted our offensive zone presence, we made the most of the time in the zone, and improved as the game wore on. We scored 12 regulation goals during the 3 game trip, which is amazing, considering our injury status.
+ Players --Umberger obviously was huge, as was Nash. Russell and Voracek just keep getting better, and Williams was great. Boll is looking more comfortable, and Murray showed some good punch. Methot had another good game.
- Defensive Zone Play -- I'm not going to go on at great lengths about this, as I know some rest and a couple of practices will get us back to where we are comfortable with Hitch Hockey, but our defensive zone effort continued to be poor. We hit OK, did a better (but not outstanding) job of clearing the puck, and won our share of board battles, but we were a couple of steps slow all night. After a hectic first, we were able to slow the pace down in the second, but lost it again at the end of the third. We gave Calgary way too much space in our end of the ice. We were just beaten to too many pucks, which gave them opportunities. Mason was sub-par in goal, but that's what fatigue will do.
We reach the All-Star Break with 49 points, 22-20-5, with 3 out of 6 points on a 1-1-1 road trip. We are likely to emerge from the break as healthy as we have been since early in the season, with a distinct majority of home games and two thirds of our back-to-back games behind us. Given the adversity we have been through, that ain't all bad.
I am working on some special features, and will have one or two of them up over the All Star Break. All Star Game watching party at the Garage Bar, hosted by the Jacket Backers, so come on out!!! I'll be sporting the white CBJ practice jersey with the #24.