When you go on the road early in the season and are hungry for points, one has to be impressed with the CBJ as they throttle the Sabres 6-1 on Friday night and then lose a heart breaker in Minnesota 3-2 in a shootout.
Let us review a dominating effort on Friday night as the CBJ score six even strength goals (currently the number one ranked team in the NHL in even strength goals with 43) against a stingy Buffalo squad. There were a total of 13 different scorers that tallied points in the affair, as they welcomed Pascal Leclaire back to the net. He had been out of commission since October 25th where he suffered an injury. It was against the Wild team when he left the game in the third period with a tweak in his "lower body"… (I love that NHL jargon)… in other words he had a slightly sprained ankle for the people that would like to have specifics. Pazzy ended up being the star of the game as he stymied the offense of the Sabres on a 36 save performance. Some of the highlights of the night were as follows:
R.J. Umberger had a two goal night was +2 and had four shots on net
Manny had a goal and an assist was +2 and was 15-7 in the face-off department… he is just getting into face-off form, so look out NHL leaders!!!
Rick Nash collected his second goal in as many nights in a strong effort
Mike Commodore had a couple of assists, was +3 and had four blocked shots… he is starting to be a threat as he is making transition from defense to offense with confidence. He has made some great passes as of late. They are tape to tape to breaking forwards that result in goals. You've got to love it!!
It was a pleasure to leave Buffalo… I mean a real pleasure to leave Buffalo… plus the ability to depart with two huge points against an Eastern Conference foe.
On to the Excel Energy Center in St. Paul, MN in another back-to-back tilt. The CBJ play league high 20 back-to-back games this year. They are also dealt with a situation three times this year when they play against the Wild, when the Wild sit at home and wait while the CBJ's are playing elsewhere. In this contest, one can only expect to play a "yawner" in true Jacques Lemaire fashion, and the way the game played out, it did not disappoint. I could have painted the booth we broadcast the game during the first two periods and had been just as happy to watch it dry. The neutral zone play held precedent over the other favored zones, but that was not a surprise… but it was a great couple of road periods. The CBJ's held their own with the same style of play of "Kitty bar the Door."
With the game tied at one, the Wild scored early in the third period. But as clichés go, your best players have to be your best players, and Rick Nash accepted the challenge. It was the individual second effort of "C" Rick Nash, who capitalized on a forced turnover by the youngster James Sheppard… that timely scored goal led to a 2-2 regulation tie.
The line of Huselius-Brassard-Nash did a formidable task of creating opportunities all night again as they were in on both goals. They were part of the offensive front the past two nights and look like a match for future games. In looking at the entire weekend the only disappointment tonight was the result of the shootout loss. The CBJ take 3-of-4 possible points on a solid weekend of play. They were resilient and persistent in being their best on the two game set.
Further observation by those that follow the group, lends support to the development of a squad that is on the upswing of the learning curve. The team looks like it has created some identity with the makeup of their line combinations. They have the skill set of Huselius-Brassard-Nash. The make up of Chimera-Malhotra-Umberger is a line that is big and gives a combination of speed and defensive reliability. The line of Modin-Peca-Torres can play any game you want… but the image of being dependable and experienced that bleed CBJ blue. The next line is one of flexibility with the inert skill of Voracek, the trench digger Jiri Novotny and the effervescent Jared Boll… Andrew Murray can fill in as a wing or center man and is dependable at both ends of the rink.
*Throughout the season, AAA will bring you the Broadcaster's Blogs - "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.