DETROIT -- Jonas Gustavsson played borderline out-of-his-mind tonight for the Red Wings.
RED WINGS 2 | BLUE JACKETS 1
That's no excuse, either; for the second straight game, the Blue Jackets set the tone against a team they deemed a "measuring stick" and created opportunities in the offensive zone. One glaring constant from Saturday's game to tonight? Lack of finish. Columbus pumped 37 pucks at the Detroit net but only one - a terrific individual effort from Cam Atkinson - beat Gustavsson tonight.
Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards was optimistic after the game and said this kind of effort is going to produce a positive result. At some point, though, the Jackets need to see these solid efforts turn into points and victories -- you'll recall they were on the wrong end of too many one-goal decisions last season.
Some positives: the forecheck, execution of their game plan against the Red Wings, and the chances created on the power play.
Let's talk about the deets of tonight's game...
- The Blue Jackets wanted to come out "flying" tonight, in the words of James Wisniewski. They were down early on the Alfredsson goal but recovered well. They put 18 shots on goal in the opening period and had their way in the Red Wings end, but struggled to capitalize on their chances. They've clearly found a recipe for success (at least in terms of creating space and offense) against Detroit, but they have to convert on the business end.
- David Savard had himself a nice game tonight in a place that can cause trouble for inexperienced players. He handled the fast ice well, I thought, and made quick plays in transition to keep the Jackets' flow going. He and Nikitin have formed a nice third pairing if the duo happens to stay together. Savard and Ryan Murray have played so well it's been hard for Richards to consider them for scratches.
- Blake Comeau said this morning that he wasn't thinking about the laceration and obviously felt well enough to play, and he fit nicely alongside Johansen and Umberger. Johansen was one of the most active Blue Jackets tonight, chipping pucks deep, making plays along the wall and being a steady presence in the middle of the ice.
- If you were to ask a few Red Wings players, they'd probably tell you they aren't big fans of No. 38 in the Jackets sweater. Boone Jenner was a problem all night long for Detroit's defense and a credit to the kid - he kept going in hard on the forecheck and finishing checks. When he locks in on the puck, it's almost as if he cannot live without it.
- Richards really liked Atkinson's game and for good reason: he was quick, slippery and dangerous with the puck tonight. He led the Jackets with six shots on goal and his play gave the top line a formidable look.
- The Blue Jackets weren't at their best in the face-off circle tonight, and it could have been a lot worse. Columbus won 48 percent of the draws against Detroit but Ryan Johansen won 15 on his own - and his line saw extended time with the puck as a result.