We're gonna need a bigger boat.
(Okay, that's my second shark/"Jaws" reference of the night and I promise I'm done.) Moving along.
After an optional morning skate today at Nationwide Arena, the Blue Jackets talked about "emptying the tanks" tonight against the San Jose Sharks -- which is another pretty good shark pun, but I digress. They played a reliable and aggressive game on Sunday against the Edmonton Oilers and didn't get the result they were looking for, but they did not let it deter them.
Make no bones about it: this was an important game for the Blue Jackets tonight. They really wanted to win this one before heading out on the road for a lengthy trip, and they pretty much did what they wanted to do.
The stats don't lie, either. A total of 14 different Blue Jackets checked in on the scoresheet tonight and six different players scored goals. Among them were Brandon Dubinsky with his first goal in the union blue sweater, and young blue liner Cody Goloubef, who has filled in admirably on defense and tallied his first career goal this evening.
Matt Calvert (two assists), Dubinsky (goal and assist), and Nick Foligno (two assists) all recorded multi-point games for Columbus, and it shouldn't come as a surprise that those three guys play on the same line. Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards put the trio together prior to Sunday's game and they seemed to click right away, so why break them up? They rewarded their coach with a terrific performance that catalyzed the team's biggest offensive output of the season.
Let's break it all down, shall we?
1. Disrupt their game: It's a rare occurrence to not notice players like Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, but aside from Marleau's meaningless second period tally, the Sharks' one-two punch was pretty much punchless. The Blue Jackets finished their checks on San Jose's top players and made them do a lot of the skating, and most of that skating was done chasing the puck. It's a simple game plan for the Blue Jackets and when they're on their game for 60 minutes, this is what they're capable of. By shutting down Thornton and Marleau, it was like cutting the head off the snake.
2. Instant chemistry: Right when the Dubinsky line started skating together, there was something about it. It just looked and felt like a trio that could make a difference, and though they didn't get rewarded Sunday afternoon, they really cashed in tonight. Those three players combined for six points, five shots on goal and a +7 rating, and were easily one of the biggest factors in the outcome. Foligno came inches away from scoring what would have been the goal of the season in the second period...he dangled through four Sharks in an end-to-end rush and ended up sliding a deke move off the left post. It was incredible.
3. Tank emptied: That was their goal (as we mentioned above), to leave it all on the ice tonight with three days between their next game in Los Angeles and a day off on Tuesday. There were no excuses, no reasons not to play their best game of the season tonight and they delivered a strong effort. They've put 76 shots on net in their last two games, have scored 12 goals in the past two home games vs. San Jose and can head on the road feeling good about their game after tonight's victory.