A couple of days in SoCal…
With a day off on Thursday in Anaheim, the team had a chance to practice at the Duck Pond and get the head on straight after a difficult loss in San Jose. The boys had a chance to hit dinner establishments in the area, walk around the local malls and enjoy an afternoon in the California weather. As broadcasters, we had the same plan, as we went down to the arena and watched the practice and had a chance to get in and talk to several of the Ducks players and staff as well. Brian Engblom set his sights on renewing some time with Teemu Selanne and I chased down 15 year vet Keith Carney. We also spent some time with one tine associate coach Newell Brown, who was hired in August to assist the coaching staff under the guidance of Randy Carlisle.
The game day skate was a good one, as game day skates go….the mood was high the tempo was up and the passes were crisp. It was certainly a good start to the day. The day starts early with the time change, as 6am comes by and before 9 am there is a physical workout and a good breakfast before the journey to the rink. As the color analyst, Brain and I spend the morning talking to the players and coaches, digging information that could be added to the broadcast that evening. Brian has cornered Corey Perry and I take 10 minutes with the diminutive Andy MacDonald, the free agent signee from Colgate University a couple of years ago. Randy Carlisle takes some time to tell us his thoughts about his team in a few words or less. He is an old pro and does little to show his entire hand... and I can’t fault him for that!!
Game time is inching closer and closer and the bus leaves a little earlier due to the fact the American League Baseball Playoffs are being played in Anaheim and beside the Pond of Anaheim. We take a back way and get there in plenty of time... feel lucky people the cheapest ticket for parking was $20.00 -- wow! The rink is cold, the ice is fine and the game is on! It is scoreless period one and both teams go 0-3 on the PP. Shots on goal are becoming an issue for the team and they are doubled up 10-5. The concern is now looking at period 2. Is there going to be a repeat on SJ in shots on goal and getting behind? The question is answered early as Cale Hulse takes a couple of minors and the Ducks begin their onslaught and begin to pile up opportunities. Lucky enough to get back in to the game, Jan Hrdina scores his first as a CBJ to escape the period only down 2-1, but being outshot 28-12. Two power play goals by Berard and Hrdina were sandwiched by a Joffry Lupul power play goal to tie it at 3. It appeared the Jackets may escape from the confines with a possible point, but no such luck as the defensive zone coverage broke down and Keith Carney scored on a juicy rebound to ice it.
It was a quiet ride form Anaheim to LA where Sunday’s game awaits. Saturday came as the team traveled outside of the city limits for a practice at the LA kings and Lakers practice facility. Let us put this bluntly... the practice had a little bit of everything from high intensity flow to 1-on-1 battles low in the defensive zone coverage. It was very game like and the coaches stopped and started the drills to emphasize teaching and corrections.
There will be some changes in the lines. The coaching staff is expecting a little more from some of the players like the Zherdev’s, Vyborny’s, Marchant’s and Wright’s. With the loss of Nash, Brule and Klesla, the boot straps have to be tightened an extra notch and the little things must be done to secure the offense and the defense are in check.
It is Saturday night and the dinner crowd of George Matthews, Brian Engblom Jeff Rimer and I may be joined by the President and GM Doug MacLean. Time for a good meal and time to reflect!!!
October 12, 2005The Sharks Take a Bite Out of the Jackets…
Coming into the city of San Jose on Tuesday marked a change of itinerary from years past. A new hotel in a renaissance part of the city allowed the players, coaches and staff an opportunity to get out and have a good dinner and get ready for the first of the 3 game west coast road trip.
The morning skate was met with concern over the condition of the ice as it appeared slow and crusty, like a pond after a spring thaw… but to no excuses from anybody, the game would continue and it did without delay. The home opener for the Sharks was now at hand.
One must understand though that the game of hockey is 3 periods long and the Bluejackets fell flat in period two to drop a 4-1 decision to the San Jose Sharks. The first of a three game road trip was stymied by the quick skating and ever growing confident Sharks. During period two, it proved to be a game of Sharks and Minnows as they machine gunned 22 shots at Marc Denis who was left helpless in the blue crease. It could have been worse on the score board believe it or not.
Period one resulted in the Sharks getting on board with Sturm ripping a shot from 35 feet through Denis who got a piece of it. But, when it rains it pours in Northern California, they came back a minute later on a Wayne Primeau goal, as the Jackets overloaded the corner and left the front of the net open for business. The Jackets showed signs of life as they continued to test Nabakov with 12 shots and a couple of scoring opportunities.
The second period found the Blue Coats flat footed for the start of the period, as they had a power play in hopes of pulling it within one. Standing still and not much emotion crept into the play of the team, and rest was history. The Sharks grew confident and hungry. They tasted blood and were all over Denis like a wounded puma. He could only save the first three or four of a couple of series of shots as Scott Thornton and Wayne Primeau deposited gimmes into the wide open cage…..it was not a pretty sight.
So, do you lie over and die, or does one show a little passion and remorse for the poor defensive lapses in the second period? I liked what I saw as the Jackets went on to out shoot and outscore the Sharks in the third. Radoslav Suchy scored his first of the season and first as a CBJ on a long shot with traffic down in front of Nabakov. Respectability was back and the charge was on for the rest of the period.
Getting outshot 36-27 and outscored 4-1, the CBJ quietly embarked onto the plane with little said. With personal and team pride waving, the sun will get up in the morning and the chore of trying to find some scoring from the cast of others (no Rick Nash) will be the task at hand.
I am also sure of one thing tonight... the team will be put through the rigors of a good work out at 1 pm on Thursday and will respond accordingly.
Bill Davidge is the radio analyst on the Blue Jackets radio network, including Columbus based flagship stations WBNS AM 1460 and WWCD FM 101.1. Prior to joining the broadcast team, he spent the 1999-00 season as a scout for the Blue Jackets and from 1995-99 served as a part-time scout for the Florida Panthers. He assisted with the evaluation of players as a part-time scout for the Detroit Red Wings from 1990-94.