A 2-1 loss at San Jose on the Saturday night; a 6-0 white wash to the L.A. Kings on Monday; and then a 5-2 win in Anaheim on the second night of back-to-back games was the dinner time entrée for the CBJ. It was a road trip that had everyone shaking their heads in disbelief as they boarded the plane for an all night flight from L.A. to Columbus on Tuesday night.
What to expect was far from what was produced in the three game set. With interim coach Claude Noel behind the bench, his laissez-faire attitude was still under scrutiny since the dismissal of Ken Hitchcock. A disappointing loss to San Jose was highlighted by a stellar performance by Steve Mason in the net as he stopped 42 of 44 shots. Andrew Murray chipped in his second goal in as many games, but two unanswered tallies in the third stopped the CBJ COLD. Another third period meltdown, the 10th of the year was witnessed by a full house in San Jose.
Off to the Staple Center to challenge the L.A. Kings, one of the surprise teams of the West, was now in sight for the CBJ... but was out of sight by the end of the second period as the Kings chased Steve Mason from the net and limited the opposition to 11 total shots on goal. As documented by all of the media, it was classified as "an embarrassment" by R.J. Umberger and some of his teammates - it surely was nothing short of that.
The good thing for the team was simple - back-to-back games, for the 11th time this season, which would not allow the team to stew about their inept play in L.A. They invaded the Honda Center in Anaheim and quickly took a 3-0 lead on the Ducks. The home team had won 11 of the previous 13 at home, but had struggled in their play since the Olympic break. Getzlaf, Perry, Neidermayer, Ryan, Visnovsky, Selanne, Hiller and Koivu were returning from some "emotional" championship hockey. They have not fully recovered and the CBJ took advantage and hung on for a 5-2 win, one that almost got away.
The game is simple. Shoot the puck... outwork the opposition in 1-on-1 hockey... get great goaltending and victory can be in the hands of the beholder in 60-minutes of sweat and bruises. With a "pack" mentality the team showed some moxie and flew home in the cover of darkness with a slight smile on their face. They played as a team, they played and won for the first time this year without their captain. There is still that aura of "we can do better, and we will" attitude and that aspect is easy to absorb when the sense permeates through the plane, from man to man.
•Garon was simply outstanding... a circus act was in the performance, making 33-35 saves. He allowed the team to win early in the game.
•Voracek tied a career high in points and had a three-point night and laid out four hits.
•Vermette had a three-point night and was a force all night in all facets of the game.
•Tyutin had a goal and two assists along with a non-scripted battle with Ryan Getzlaf.
•Chris Clark took off his business suit and fought Mike Brown.
•Derek Dorsett scored the initial goal of the game and then proceeded to fight after Derek Brassard was involved in a "how do you do" - a good old western boy, grown up... the flavor of the month is what Dorsett is with this team.
•Maksim Mayorov was called up and demonstrated some passion and skill in his fourth NHL game.
•Every CBJ player had a hit with the lone exception, Fedor Tyutin... he was too busy scoring and fighting and playing 21:00 minutes.
•Congratulations to Mike Blunden on his first NHL point.
It was a solid performance, but this team likes to make it interesting. They skated early, they scored early, they defended early and they were able to hang on!! Without Garon the story line would be a little different... who cares? They won.
Now...get some sleep!!
*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.