A coach has a small number of cards to play, and one of them is changing the goaltender. Sometimes it works, and others it doesn't -- and it's definitely not a guarantee.
Todd Richards didn't like the pair of goals allowed by Steve Mason late in the first period and early in the second period, but he also acknowledged that his team was rather sloppy in its own end, leading to several chances for the Edmonton Oilers. When facing a skilled, aggressive team like the Oilers, those small mistakes are exponentially magnified.
When the Blue Jackets fell behind 3-2, it was a major turning point: Richards installed Sergei Bobrovsky in the net and despite coming in cold, he steadied the ship and made some game-saving stops along the way. Teams need that on occasion, and Bobrovsky was very sharp in relief tonight.
He did not allow a goal in regulation, overtime or the shootout -- and it was a catalyst for the Blue Jackets' second consecutive win.
Vinny Prospal was very good tonight, with a goal and an assist to along with energy throughout the contest. In his first game back from an upper body injury, Jack Johnson scored the tying goal in the third period and played nearly 27 minutes in all situations -- not bad for a guy getting back on the ice for the first time since a loss in St. Louis a couple of weeks ago.
Let's break down tonight's 4-3 shootout win, shall we?
1. KEEP YOUR BADGE AND GUN: Officer Bobrovsky, as he's affectionately known north of the border, was tremendous in helping the Blue Jackets get settled down and emotionally engaged into this game. The Johnson goal was a big one, giving them a lift late in a strong period for the home side and leading to a stout third period. But it's hard to ignore the pair of saves on Jordan Eberle in OT, especially the first one. We'll be watching that over and over for quite some time.
2. NET PRESENCE: The Blue Jackets knew going into the game, having played the Oilers four times a year for quite some time, that the key to causing problems for Dubnyk was traffic and chaos around his net. Dubnyk stands 6-foot-6 and looks even taller between the pipes, but the old adage rings true: it's hard to stop what you can't see. MacKenzie's goal came from bodies at the net, Prospal's goal was a quick play from Johansen before Dubnyk could get across, and the Johnson tally was a beauty pass from behind the net by Brassard. The Blue Jackets put 38 shots on goal through 65 minutes of regulation and overtime, and were 2-for-3 in the shootout.
3. GOING STREAKING: With tonight's shootout win, the Blue Jackets have picked up points in four consecutive games and have won back-to-back games for the first time all season. They've done so by committing to their system and believing that they're never out of a game, and their lunch pail mentality is evident in every player inside the dressing room. Todd Richards said it post-game: they've gotten quality play from everyone, from the forwards to defense and both goaltenders. When everyone's pulling on the same rope, it makes things a lot easier.