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The Best from the West was 2!!!!

by Bill Davidge / Columbus Blue Jackets


It proved to be the Wild Wild West for the CBJ.  It started in Calgary with 35 minutes of solid hockey and the score tied 1-1.  The Flames got their opportunity with Marc Methot in the box for delay of game.  Phaneuf let go a rifle with the help of a screen to make it 2-1, then on a delayed penalty, the Flames struck again as Cammelari backdoored a great pass from Iginla to create a 3-1 cushion.  It was a lead that would not be relinquished as the Flames walked away with a 4-1 win.  The story was playing only 35 minutes and the Flames scoring timely man advantage goals. As mentioned, timely scoring was the key in this game; along with the execution of not playing 60 minutes of hockey on behalf of the CBJ was the difference.


Now….why was it WILD??????....the Edmonton game was one of the best games the CBJ have played this year.  They were dominating.  They rolled four lines.  They had everybody playing Hitchcock hockey for the entire 60 minutes.  They checked.  They failed to give up odd man rushes. They stymied any rush that the Oil would try to mount.  It was a Picasso.  It was one of those games that will not be easy to forget. The 4th line was so effective; they set the tone for the game with “weighty”, “heavy” and in your face play, especially in the offensive zone. It was the 3rd line that created the lone tally, with a great transition move by Fedor Tyutin in the defensive zone.  He moved the puck to Boll who found a scampering Raffi Torres all alone in the neutral zone.  He proceeded to deposit the GWG between the 5 hole of Dwayne Roloson early in period three... Steve Mason recorded his 8th shutout of the season as he continues to gingerly grasp the handle of the Calder Trophy.  He had to manage a mere 15 shots on goal to secure his tying shutout mark with Hall of Famer Ken Dryden.


Why was it Wild????  Can you say bi-polar?  Oh my gosh…going from painting a Mona Lisa to stinking up Hastings Street in downtown Vancouver has everyone’s wits at end.  The CBJ had 3 days off (that may have been a problem) and started the game as if quick sand had been deposited on BC Place ice. No legs…no intensity…a game where no one could get anything going except Steve Mason.  He was good.  Anticipation was his middle name tonight….until a 5on3 PP with Tyutin and Nash in the box.  Sami Salo let go a “string seeking rocket” to the glove side of Mason with one of the Sedin twins parked in front of the 24 square feet.  This took place with only 5 seconds left on the clock in period one.  At the beginning of the second period, with time running out on Nash’s minor, Ryan Kesler, the 2 year OSU product tipped in a Mats Sundin shot for his 19th of the year, making it a 2-1 contest.


The CBJ were not out of it.  They were outshot 22-9 through 2 periods until Rick Nash stuffed in a rebound at 6:18 of period 3.  Interesting enough the CBJ was right back in it. The first key of the game tonight was to adhere to 2 components of success  for a possible win…#1…check effectively in all 3 zones and #2…to not allow odd man rushes……well…the checking was minimal at best, but there was a melee of odd man rushes that consummated  the final outcome.  Up 2-1 the Canucks made transition with a 3on1 with Alex Burrows and the twins.  A rising rocket beat Mason on the glove side to make it a 3-1 game and the CBJ never threatened again.


Outshot 30-20 on the night, it was one of those nights that reflected a Hitchcock coaching performance against the CBJ by Vancouver coach Alain Vignault.  They took away the transition game and nullified the normal speed of the Jackets.  2 major stats that stood out tonight  were #1…16 missed shots….several players had chances to bury some Grade A chances but blew it wide..#2…face-offs…Manny Malhotra was 15-10 on the night…the rest of the team was 7-21.  Michael Peca left the game after 5 shifts in the 1st period and proved to be a key loss to the team…an undisclosed injury at this time of writing.


So it is back to NWA to play a Tuesday night tilt against the LA Kings. It will be a tough task for sure….Anytime a team comes back to the eastern time zone and plays within 48 hours makes it a difficult proposition.  It is the task.  No excuses.  The team must and should be ready under the tutelage of Ken Hitchcock, who now 11th all time in wins with Pat Burns at a 501 total.


The playoff run continues… it ever stressful for all players, coaches and even the broadcasters who have yet to feel the thrill of playoff hockey!!!!.....gotta love it!!


The CBJ are right in the thick of it all.


Stay tuned!!  There is some hockey to be played!!





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