February 2, 2010... better known as "Ground Hog Day" was a day that revealed a shadow alright!! It was not a friendly shadow of sorts. The CBJ reverted back... "déjà vu"... go back about a week when CBJ played a game very similar against the L.A. Kings at home. It was a game that reflected "too little" and "too late."
The CBJ were tenacious on the puck and totally dominated territorial play for the first ten minutes of the game. They led 1-0 on a short-handed goal by Antoine Vermette. The CBJ looked like world beaters, out-shooting the Avs 8-2 initially. With the short-handed tally, it gave the team some confidence, but it was short lived.
Short lived... why? A mental, yes, mental mistake occurred in the waning two minutes of the first period, when to put it bluntly, a simple defensive zone coverage play put the CBJ back on their heels... and I mean on their heels. To have success in the NHL, simple individual skills combine to make a TEAM effective. The characteristics of good teams involve some constants, such clichés... work hard... read and react. Those phrases instantly come to mind... but one small skill that can help is the ability to stop and start, and constantly face the play.
Stop and Start? This is simple skill that can make the difference in scoring a goal or preventing a goal. When an individual is on the ice, the job of the player is to face the puck. It remains one of the most important skills to play the game effectively. Mind you, it does take a concentrated effort when the legs tire quickly and a burning sensation overcomes the muscles, as a result of the instant build up of lactic acid. Circling away from the play is the easiest thing to do, to glide on the edges and skate away from the traffic becomes a habit.
To face the play all night, takes effort and the shifts become shorter. When teams effectively do it, they are playing a "north-south" game of hockey. They move up ice in straight lines and they return in straight lines, this was also known as "North American hockey" back in the 80's.
The return to the basic components of this game must be reinforced. For the fans who watch a particular player, observe the positioning of the shoulders, this is a true sign. If they are positioned parallel to the opponent's end boards or square to the visitor's net, it is the ideal position and minimizes the turning. Players need to get the head and shoulders up ice as soon as possible.
Colorado kept their feet moving and putting pressure on the CBJ. Their identity stood true this evening, skating and checking are the key skills that represent this Avs team. They shut the CBJ down for 13 shots in the second and third periods, and pressured and scored off the rush. The young kids led by the eighth round pick of the 2004 draft, Brandon Yip, schooled the CBJ. T.J. Galiardi, an ECAC Player of the Year out of Dartmouth, table set four playmakers in the game, and 18-year-old Ryan O'Reilly converted on two short-handed goals. Give the Av's youngsters their due, the kids outplayed our kids on the playground tonight.
The CBJ come home for five games in a row. It means nothing unless the team can show the "moxie" to outwork their opponents. Take skill out of the equation, it boils down to work ethic, simple puck management, and the desire to WIN.
*Throughout the season, AAA will bring you the Broadcaster's Blogs - "Bobby Mac's Blog," "Davidge Dishes" and "Rimer Ramblings." The Columbus Blue Jackets radio and television analysts will try to keep you updated on all the season action through their blogs, especially when the Blue Jackets are on the road.