The schizoid Blue Jackets displayed both sides of their character tonight -- showing patience, grit and skill in the first ten minutes, while posting a 2 - 0 lead in the Garden. The next 30 minutes of hockey were a Tim Burton production . . . turnovers, odd man rushes, lots of standing around, while the Rangers skated around and through the Jackets defense. A turnover by Huselius, a missed assignment by Vermette, and poof!! , the rout was on.
My full game summary is over at Inside Hockey , but here are a few observations:
- Hitch is in a bit of denial about the need for speed when defending teams like the Rangers. Sure, we can hit, and forecheck and set up the picket line in the neutral zone, but at some point you need folks who can skate with their forwards. Only Stralman, Russell and Tyutin can keep up (and Tyutin only in spurts).
- Tagging on to #1, scratching Russell for the second consecutive night was a puzzler against this team. Sure, there are a couple of Rangers who are heavy hitters, but this team is built more on speed and skill. Fight fire with fire -- you can't hit 'em if you can't catch 'em.
- The Methot experiment needs to end . . .now. He was simply awful tonight. Bench him, send him down, waive him, sell him for three magic beans . . . don't care at this point. He needs to go. Mathieu Roy provides a much more versatile skill set, which is what this club needs on the blue line. If Roy is not the answer, then let Howson work his magic.
- Re-unite Commodore and Hejda. This was your shut down pair last year, and no reason to think that they can't do it again. The defense is lacking confidence and consistency, which bleeds into the goalkeeping and the offense. Indeed, many of the issues tonight stemmed from players "assuming" that the puck had been captured, or that somebody else was going to get the puck. With the defense of last year, those assumptions were valid, for the most part. Not so much right now.
More tomorrow. Look for some upcoming features on The Hockey Writers as well. Tell your friends, and support the Blue Jackets!