Oh what could have been… In the first game post-lockout where the most vocal dissenters had declared from high upon social media mountaintops that they would never watch another hockey game again… the #CBJ’s home opener was met with the largest non-playoff game crowd in franchise history. Yes, you heard that right. In the first home game following the second lockout in the the #CBJ’s short existence, following the team’s worst season finish ever… fans turned out in record numbers. And unlike in previous years, very few of them were Red Wings fans (though the ones that WERE there were as obnoxious and annoying as ever). 19,206 fans turned out to watched the Jackets take the ice against the hated rivals from up north. It’s a shame the game didn’t turn out how everyone hoped.
Final score: Detroit 4 (SO) – Columbus 3
Detroit came out firing on all cylinders, hammering shots at Bobrovsky for the first 20 minutes. Columbus managed to give the Red Wings 3 power plays in the first period and spent most of that time playing on their heels. Some incredible saves combined with some bad luck from the Red Wings (I believe they hit the post/crossbar 3 times on the same powerplay) kept the game tied. By the end of the period the shots were 9-2 in favor of the Red Wings but the score miraculously remained 0-0.
The second period didn’t start much better for Columbus. Detroit didn’t lose a beat during the intermission and whatever adjustments the Jackets made didn’t seem to have any effect. The Red Wings scored early in the second off of a shot from the point in which Nikita Nikitin let himself be manhandled by Henrik Zetterberg right in front of Bobrovsky. Zetterberg gave him a monstrous shove right as the shot was coming in and the falling Nikitin turned out to be a very effective screen as the puck sailed past Bob.
The Red Wings would score again off a great passing play that allowed Ian White to deliver a one timer from the bottom of the circle right over Bob’s head (who, it appeared, ducked out of the way of the shot…). There was a lot of confusion as to the validity of this goal. The puck, from my angle, appeared to hit the crossbar and bounce in front of Bobrovsky. The TV camera angle was nearly identical to where we were sitting and appeared to show the exact same thing. The ‘behind the camera’ angle wasn’t much better as Bobrovsky’s dark jersey made it hard to see if the puck ever hit the back of the net. The TV broadcast never showed the ‘above the goal’ angle to be sure. However, based on the trajectory the shot came in at and the similar angle it took back towards the shooter, combined with a dull ‘thump’ instead of the familiar ‘clang’ sound when a shot hits the crossbar, it appears likely that the puck slipped right under the crossbar, hit the padded vertical support bar at the back of the net and bounced right back out at the same angle. While I still haven’t seen a picture/video that shows the puck clearly in the net, the way the puck rebounded and sounded when it made contact makes it less likely that the puck hit the crossbar instead of going in.
Down 2-0 more than halfway through the second period and showing very little signs of life offensively it looked like the boys in Union Blue were staring down the barrel of a potential blowout. Fortunately for the team and the 19,206 fans in attendance, the #CBJ finally got the spark they were needing (and boy was it a big spark) via a fantastic play from two of the team’s up and coming young stars. Ryan “Joey” Johansen found himself with the puck near the defensive blue line and saw a streaking Cam Atkinson on the verge of splitting the defense just ahead of him. Joey fed Cam a perfect pass right as he was skating into the offensive zone. Cam turned on the afterburners, blew past the defender and deked Red Wings goaltender, Jimmy Howard, completely out of Columbus while burying the puck in the net. Just like that, the Jackets were back in the game.
The third period showed more signs of life for Columbus as they managed to draw several penalties from the Red Wings and convert a couple power plays into goals. Early in the 3rd period James “Wiz” Wisniewski blasted a one timer from the blue line past Howard. Replay showed it deflected slightly off of a Wings player’s stick but I don’t think Howard ever saw the shot to begin with. The #CBJ who had only moments ago (relatively, in game minutes terms) been down 2-0 had now fought back and tied the game 2-2. They comeback would reach a crescendo a few minutes later when Vinny Prospal gathered a rebound off of a Nikitin blast off the glass and fired it top shelf over Jimmy Howard through traffic. The team many, including the NBC Sports broadcast team, was ready to count out of the game was now sitting on a 3-2 lead in the 3rd period.
Sadly, that’s around the time the #CBJ’s luck would run out. The Red Wings managed to regain some of their first period form and kicked up their pressure in the final 8ish minutes of the game. Pavel Datsyuk would eventually score maybe the easiest goal of his career off of a slick pass through a couple out of place #CBJ players and gently glide it into the net past Bobrovsky who never saw him standing at the back door. I watched this goal several times after I got home from the game and several players appeared to be out of position leaving the passing play open.
With the game tied 3-3, both teams appeared to be comfortable sending the game to OT and taking the free point. During the five minute OT, the stats show the Red Wings out-shot the Blue Jackets 4-1 but from my recollection they didn’t have any really good scoring opportunities. The #CBJ appeared to be out-playing the Red Wings in overtime but were unable to convert on a few good chances and the game headed to the shootout where the Red Wings went on to win in the 4th round off of an impressive goal by Red Wings rookie Damien Brunner. Cam Atkinson had his first round shootout goal reviewed and eventually negated after he was seen to have touched the puck after Howard made the initial save. The truly unfortunate part of this was that in Howard’s attempt to make the save, he his momentum had steered the puck towards the goal and it was headed past the goal line when Atkinson touched it the second time. Had he not touched it, it likely would have gone in anyway and been a good goal.
It was an exciting game and the Jackets showed amazing resiliency in battling back from down 2-0 to take the lead 3-2. Ultimately it was defensive breakdowns from usually reliable defenders that appeared to cost them the game. If you had told any #CBJ fan that through 2 games (against hated rivals in Nashville and Detroit) that the Jackets would have 3 out of a possible 4 points I can’t imagine you’d find anyone upset. That said, I can’t help but think of the incredible missed opportunity to show your record attendance crowd that this wasn’t the “same old Blue Jackets” that can never beat Detroit. The hardcore fans can pick apart the game and see how this team is different than past teams but to the casual fan I hope they didn’t see this as “more of the same”, because it definitely wasn’t.
I’ve heard talk that the next home game (Saturday) against Chicago is nearing a sellout as well. To me, this will be the truest test the CBJ will face in the early portion of the season. The Blackhawks are red hot right now, off to their first 3-0 start since the early 70′s and they dominated the Jackets so wholly and completely last season that I’d hoped we’d never have to play them again. I believe the cumulative score in all 6 meetings last season was something like 39-12 in favor of Chicago. If the Jackets can win this game against a hot Chicago team in front of another sellout crowd… well let’s just say it would be HUGE for our season.
Who impressed me:
- Cam Atkinson – What a beauty goal. Cam is going to be huge for this team this year. He’s one of only a couple players on this team with the raw skill to beat the other team by himself. Most of our goals are probably going to come off of rebounds and deflections. Cam, meanwhile will be scoring highlight reel goals all season.
- Sergei Bobrovsky – Don’t let the 4 goals against fool you. The Red Wings are one of the top puck possession teams in the league. They are great at feeding passes through the defense and getting shots on net (of which they had 42 on Monday). If not for Bobrovsky, this could have been a 6-3 regulation win for the Red Wings.
- Ryan Johansen – It’s amazing how Joey has calmed all doubts the fans had after seeing him in camp. He’s been a force for the CBJ through 2 games, showing some great creativity and offensive hockey sense. His feed to Cam on the Jackets first goal was maybe as good as the goal itself.
- Nick Foligno – Foligno is very quick and always seems to find a way to beat one or two defenders and get behind the defense with the puck. So far it’s only found him in the corner waiting for his teammates to help (or drawing a BS goalie interference penalty when he actually does make it to the net). Once he develops some chemistry with his linemates, he will be one of this team’s top point producers.
- Matt Calvert – Matty Hustle was a force to be reckoned with on Monday. He used his speed to single handedly generate a couple offensive opportunities. He won two foot races to save an icing call and at one point he managed to kill off about 15-20 seconds of a Red Wings power play by single handedly tying up the puck behind the Red Wings net while being hammered on by 3 Wings players.
And who didn’t:
- Nikita Nikitin – I had some concerns with Niki6′s play/apparent energy level during the first day of camp but I was relieved when I’d heard he had a rough travel schedule and hadn’t slept yet. I was again a bit concerned with his play during the Nashville game where he was having trouble keeping pucks in the offensive zone and appeared to be ‘gliding’ out there at times instead of skating. But they won so I ignored it. There was no ignoring his game on Monday. He was… not good. Constantly out of position, getting manhandled in front of Bobrovsky on the first Detroit goal and blocking Bob’s view of Datsyuk on the backdoor (while not being in position to break up the pass) on the tying goal in the 3rd. Not sure what’s up with Nikitin but he’s been less than stellar out there the first two games.
- Jack Johnson – Jack didn’t have an ‘awful’ game on Monday. He ended up +1 (which ultimately means nothing in a single game situation but everyone likes to point to him always being negative so nyah). Late in the game he had several weak or bad decision passes that got intercepted and led to Red Wings scoring opportunities. He also had 32 minutes TOI which lead all players so perhaps he was a bit tired.
- The refs – I’m trying to not be a homer here but there were so many missed interference/holding calls and even a blatantly obvious cross-check in the 3rd period. Combined with the Foligno “goaltender interference” call where he was given a strong two handed shove right into the goaltender, the refs were off their game in a big way.
Via: Red Wings HF Boards Gameday Thread
last_sd:If we lose this game/barely beat CBJ we will see about 100 trade proposals selling off our roster and 50 threads on how Babcock/Holland should be fired
irishtemper: Wings win this one 5-1…big night for Datsyuk.
ComeAtMeBro: AHHH, ****ing post!
theYman:What? 2 posts in a row now!!!! OMG!! We may never score a goal for the rest of the season.
theYman:BobberHead is standing on his head.
JmanWingsFan:…Is Bob the new Brian Elliot?
SoupGuru:Pierre isn’t biased at all. But he’s “worried” about the Wings having the momentum.
ComeAtMeBro:Yeah, the face-off penalty is so ****ing stupid, found out about it earlier today. ****.
13 HockeyTown 40:Oh. My. God.
The Zetterberg Era:you could see that one coming at their blue line.
theYman:Uhhh. Can Jimmy stop anybody on a breakaway anymore??
Forty: Saw that coming a mile away.
ComeAtMeBro: HAHAHAHAHA and that’s game. 0-2 boys.
barnztormre: You KNEW that was coming. This is INFURIATING.
JmanWingsFan: I give up…
Sameheda: This is ****ing embarrassing.
fimoknete: lol, come on. its ****ing columbus
barnztormre:WE GET A POINT!!!! WE GET A POINT!!!!!!!!!!
gretskidoo:A tie is like a win for BJ fans. We’ll be there soon, too..
theYman: Dats no goal = we lost ****!!
Thats My Hat: That was the most beautiful deke I have ever seen from someone not named Datsyuk. Just had a little school girl fit.
schminksbro:I am so proud the boys eeked out a shootout win over Columbus
And finally, from HTT3:
As for the CBJs game, Smith gave them a free point that resulted in them moving further up the standing. CBJs are better this year, DRWs are worse. The last thing you want to do is give your division rival free points. That point could be a deciding factor…