Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Unfinished Business

Despite dominating large swaths of the game, the CBJ dropped another one to their new nemesis -- the St. Louis Blues. Don't know what it is about this team, but we have a lot of trouble with these guys, and objectively there is no reason for it.

Tonight's loss was all about not finishing, both on offense and in goal. We played a solid first period, scoring a power play goal on our first opportunity, then Mase drops a puck he always holds onto, and it is tied. Next, we dominate possession in the zone, get a lot of traffic in front, get the puck to the point, and Tyutin buries it -- textbook stuff. A few minutes later, a muffed assignment leave the net wide open, and again we are tied. We show discipline, good puck handling, no penalties, and we end the first period tied.

Second period we lost a bit of our edge, and the puck spent more time in our zone than we would like to see. Mase made a few nice saves on the power play. 1 second later, however, he just misses one. Our seats are on a line behind Mason and the shooter on that goal, and I could not believe he missed it. He was square, no traffic in front, just a whiff. We outshoot St. Louis 15 - 2 in the final period, but can't get one to go. With Mason pulled, we got the faceoff, maintained possession and got just what we wanted -- Huselius with the puck right in front, and he passes off to the right side, wide of the intended mark . . . A misplay by Williams up high results in an empty netter, and the rest is history,.

Along the way we had more "almost" goals than I can count -- some nice saves by Chris Mason, but at least 3 or 4 posts, including a shorthanded breakaway by Nash, and some wildly bouncing pucks that went the wrong way. A nice open ice hit by Hejda against Backes -- some measure of payback for his hit on Huselius back in St. Louis.

+/- for tonight:

+ Possession -- For large parts of the game we absolutely dominated puck possession in their zone. (But see the minus for finishing below)

+ Defense\PK -- For the most part, we played a sound defensive game, with one lapse that cost us a goal. Great kill of the 4 minute high sticking penalty. We minimized their PP chances and kept the #8 power play off the board.

+ Players -- Tyutin had a very strong game, as did Commodore and Russell. Methot showed a lot of energy, as did Modin. The Chimera, Williams, Voracek line needs to work together, but showed signs of being a strong combination. Umberger put himself in the right position and was aggressive all night.

--Finishing -- We have gotten in the habit of trying to make things look too pretty. Huselius needs to shoot that puck at the end. One too many passes has become our trademark. Take a page from Russell, Tyutin and Commodore -- fire it at the net and good things happen. We need a more consistent presence in front of the net. Mase needs to grab the puck and hold on. 2 of the 3 were softies tonight. He deserved a better fate, but he would want both of those back.

--Players -- Sorry, but our #1 line did not have it tongiht. A combined minus 8 on the night, and Huselius had zero shots. Sorry, but with his talent, he needs to put the puck on the net more.

No need to panic, as a win on Friday still keeps us on par with the 60% rule -- win 3 out of 5 from the break on in and we go to the playoffs. Mase is clearly not at 100%, so we need to be able to cover for him. Curtis Sandford??? We have a great chance on Friday to go into Pittsburgh and take advantage of a struggling Penguins team. After two loses, we should be plenty fired up.

Bottom line -- forget the style points--finish your chances. Go Jackets!


Rick said...

The Blues are a "desperate" team right now which makes them dangerous (see my post in The Hockey Writers). Mase looks "out of sorts" at times. Maybe needs more rest? You're absolutely correct about the Juice; he needs to shoot, not pass when he's in that close. A solid 60 minutes of play gives us a chance every night. I'm still convinced that 20-12-3 after the ASG will get us in the playoffs. Personally, I'd like to see them go on a streak and win more than 20.

Rick said...

Oh, by the way, great hip-check by Hejda! Couldn't believe that Hejda got a penalty in the scrum that followed for just standing there.