Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Game 4: Close, But No Cigar

game notes follow:

early power play leads to a Detroit goal. After Tyutin failed to clear the puck, the puck ends up banking off him after a point shot by a wide open Lidstrom was saved by Mason.

Huselius goal on the power play to stem the early tide. Great passes by Russell and Nash to set up Huselius, who beat Osgood top shelf blocker side.

Holmstrom scores shortly after the Jackets had tied the game. He beats Mason on a rebound cleanup after being left in front of the crease. Earlier that play Malhotra hadd been muscled by Datsyuk into losing his stick. This power is nothing new as the Wings have proven to be stronger than the Jackets all series.

Just after the Jackets kill a penalty and Nash loses his skates trying to make a big hit, Cleary grabs a rebound off the back boards and slips it by Mason to make it 3-1.

Fantastic save by Osgood to rob the Jackets will less than a minute to go in the first period. The puck was floating over his shoulder and he flung his blocker and got a piece of the puck. End of 1, 3-1 Detroit.

Beautiful goal by Nash deflecting a Klesla shot past Osgood's skate. An important early goal to bring Columbus within one and keep the crowd loud.

Spectacular goal by Umberger on the power play to tie the game, sweeping in from the point and out deking a defenseman then beating Osgood low to the glove side. The play started with a long clearing pass by Mason.

The unflappable Wings come right back as Hossa scores a pair of goals to grab a 5-3 lead. Foolish penalty by Nash leads to a power play goal on the latter score.

Russell continues his strong play and finishes a coast-to-coast goal after a nifty bewteen the legs pass by Torres to free the young defenseman on the rush.

After Osgood loses a rebopund Modin pokes home a rebound to tie the score with less than two minutes left in the period. A 4 goal second period for Columbus ends with teh score tied at 5.

Win or lose, this sport is the greatest. This game has been nothing but one exciting rush after another with hits, great skating and crucial saves. The pace is swift, almost an anti-baseball focus required form fans.

Scary two minute stretch as the Wings control the puck in the Jackets end. two saves by Mason keep the score tied.

12:58 marks the spot as Mason snaps the glove and robs the Wings Franzen. Wow!

Mark me as one who does not go for the Os-good chanty. Never been a fan of negative cheers. I'd rather yell supporting my team. To each his own. The Jackets are in this game because they have played better, not because of the cheer.

FS Ohio has time to show text message polls but not the out of town scores? I guess I should just be happy to see the game after they preempted the previous game to show a Cavs playoff game.

Horrible too many men on the ice penalty against Columbus with 1:34 left. Despite the excuses offered by the commentators, you have to get off the ice. Franzen scores the go-ahead goal with 46 seconds on the clock, poking in a rebound past Mason.

6-5 final. The fans give the team a rousing ovation before they can leave the ice.

Making the playoffs was a good step this year. This series shows the gap between the good and the teams rounding out the playoff slots. The team weaknesses, well hidden by good coaching and hard work by players, have been exposed under the pressure of the playoffs. More scoring, better center play and dramatic improvement on the specialty teams are needed to improve from this season's soaring flight to the playoffs.

Playoffs are over for the Jackets. It's back to earth, flat as a pancake.
Game 3: No Doubt

At no time during the game did it appear as if the Jackets would be able to mount resistance to the dominant Red Wings. A spirited home ice crowd was little help against the giants on the ice. There is no David to stand up against a team of Goliaths. Yes, the team scored - Umberger the woozy. The goal was meaningless in a game already in hand. Osgood deserves all accolades he can muster. He has outplayed Mason.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Game 2: Crushed

The final scoe was 4-0... and the game looked worse than the score.

All you need to know was encapsulated in one TV shot. When Hitchcock called a timeout near the end of the second period, the television cameras focused on Steve Mason. The rookie goalie was hunched over at the waist with glove on his pads, breathing deeply - he was exhausted. After a 4-0 shutout against 39 shots, he should be tired. Chris Osgood stopped all 25 Columbus shots and at points was able to go minutes at a stretch without facing a credible offensive chance. So much for a Columbus goaltending edge.

Early in game three in Columbus on Tuesday night look for the Wings to throw the kitchen sink at the young host team in an attempt to crush the last vestiges of competition out of them.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Game 1: Outclassed

The Red Wings flexed their muscles at the expense of the playoff newbie Jackets, winning game one in Detroit 4-1. After a hotly contested first period, the Wings slowly turned on the jets and dominated play at times with their puck-control. A lot has been said about the own-goal by Malhotra: a potentially simple save that evaded Mason because of a deflection. I think that the play certainly was a bad break, but erasing that goal would not have changed the outcome. The Jackets need to pick up their play and force the turnovers that Detroit forced in game one.

In the battle of goalies, give Osgood a nod after 60 minutes. Mason did not play poorly (well, that last one was weak), but Osgood was not the liability that he needs to be fr Columbus to steal a game or two.

Saturday brings a big game. If Columbus can pull off the upset, it makes the games in Columbus very interesting.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

It's the Wings

After dropping the last two games and see the St. Louis Blues slide on by, the Jackets finish in the seventh slot making their first round opponent the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings. After a lackluster end of the season for both teams, look for Detroit to put the screws to the Jackets from the first drop of the puck. Detroit's ability to control the puck can be intimidating, so Columbus must be ready to weather the storm. The star power Detroit throws at opponents is awesome: Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Marian Hossa, Brian Rafalski, Nicklas Lidstrom, Johan Franzen, etc. Though the star list for Columbus is Rick Nash and Steve Mason, that just might be enough.

The most interesting part of this match up is that based on play this season, Columbus has a big edge in goaltending. This season rookie Mason clearly ha splayed better than either Osgood or Conklin. How Mason reacts to the pressure of the playoffs will be crucial to the series outcome. Osgood's experience is a possible ace in the hole. Despite Detroit being the defending champs, there should be no counting out the Blue Jackets because of teh goaltending edge. Not even the most ardent Jackets fan can make the talent case for Columbus over Detroit. However playoff hockey is won with defense and Mason is a game-changer. We'll soon learn if he is a playoff game-changer.

The season series split 3-3. The series will start in Detroit this week. Columbus playoff games... sounds good, if not unfamiliar) to me. Have fun!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009


“We did it for ourselves, but most of all we did it for Mr. Mac. We know he’s up there watching. I’m sure he’s sitting in his chair and has a cigar in his mouth.” - Rick Nash speaking of the late owner of the Blue Jackets, John McConnell.

A second hard-fought game against Chicago in a few days ends on a Fedor Tyutin shootout goal to give the Blue Jackets a 4-3 win and, more importantly, their first trip to the NHL playoffs. The team battled back after Chicago jumped to a 2-0 first period lead on goals by Seabrook and Bolland. By the 8:00 mark of the second, the game was tied. Vermettes scored the first Columbus goal then set up Jason Williams. Havlat and Nash scored for each side to send the game into OT. Chicago had a power play in the overtime session, but could not convert.

It is a good thing to have won the game to earn the playoff spot. Stumbling into the post-season rarely is a harbinger of success. The pressure will be off the Jackets when they next hit the ice: Friday in St. Louis then the season finale at home against Minnesota. Saturday's home crowd should better be roaring!

The drought is over! Looking ahead, their likely opponent is Vancouver, a team that has played very well down the stretch and has the game-changing Roberto Luongo is goal. We'll see if Mats Sundin earns his keep in the post-season. They didn't sign him not to be a factor in a Cup run. Captain Nash will have to best Mats and the twins for the Jackets to have a shot at advancing.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Backing In

Playing well but losing is not exactly the ideal way to make the playoffs, but we'll take what we can get. Mason is keeping them in games, but teh offense, aside from nash, needs to step it up. Two losses (Nashville and Chicago) garner points in the new era of NHL, so hope is alive. 90 points obviously is a great improvement, but there will be no satisfaction without a playoff appearance. Three games left for the Jackets to claim their own spot. Games left: at Chicago, at St. Louis and Minnesota.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Two Big Points

Mason outduels Rinne as the Jackets earn an important victory against Nashville, a team looking up at Columbus in the playoff race. After two weekend losses to the Blues, this game presented Civil War buff Hitchcock with the task to rally the troops and get refocused. Raffi Torres scored the game-winner at 4:05 of the third period and Mason made it stand up. Definitely a playoff atmosphere at Nationwide Arena, the crowd saw both teams put on a show of hard-hitting hockey. Mason played up to the publicity and made some crucial saves in the third period. The teams meet again on Saturday in Nashville.

The win gives Columbus 88 points and leaves them in the sixth seed slot. St. Louis sits in ninth and has 83 points with a game in hand. A win in Nashville should sew up a playoff spot for the Blue Jackets.