Nothing Is Ever Easy . . .
As the 3rd period was beginning tonight, my thoughts were along the following lines:
“Gee, this is great. A 4 – 1 lead after playing two great periods of hockey, and no need to have the cardiologist on call, for a change. We always dominate the third period.”
My profound apologies to the CBJ faithful for apparently jinxing the hell out of the team. But who could blame me?? We score something like 2 seconds into our first power play, we dominate both ends of the ice, make a great “time and score” goal on Malhotra’s steal, give up a dumb one, but then roar back immediately with a gorgeous Backman to Malhotra to Nash (yes, I said Backman) play, followed up by a Murray goal. We are perfect in games where Murray scores, so who could worry??? Geeez . . .
As Hitch said after the game, we got casual with the puck, gave up the shortie, followed by a tough power play goal, then were forced to hang on. 13 – 3 against us in shots in the 3rd period. However, we still end up with the victory, the 2 points, and are 5 – 0 -1 in our last 6 games, 7 -3 -1 since the All Star break. We are taking advantage of the opportunities we get, albeit with perhaps a bit more drama than some of us would like.
For the +/- tonight, I am going to do this in reverse, and get the big, ugly minuses out of the way first.
—3rd Period — We were guilty of looking at the scoreboard, and looking at our watches to figure out when we had to be on the plane to Toronto. We didn’t pass the puck, we shoved it. We appeared to be cycling well, except we were in our own end and didn’t have the puck. We all know that Hitch conveyed the message loud and clear, and we don’t need to belabor it. However, for future reference, hockey games are 60 minutes long.
–Penalties — The big key was to stay out of the box, and we did a nice job of that in the first period. However 5 penalties later, including another stupid too many men penalty that they scored on, we taxed our forwards on the PK too much.
Now for the positives:
++ Dominance — Although shot totals were fairly close, I have not seen the Jackets so totally dominate an opponent on every square inch of the ice as they did for 2 periods. The lone St. Louis goal came while one of our defenders was being pinned to the ice below the goal line, and the puck caromed around a bit in the high slot. We were disciplined, maintained good puck control, forced them to dump and chase, and cashed 4 nice goals, including the highlight reel number with Backman, Nash and Malhotra.
++ Control — A subcategory of dominance, perhaps, but we were so calm, calculating and proficient during the first two periods, it was a joy to watch. No sense of scrambling, we took our time with the puck, made good passes, and created space and time seemingly at will.
++ Hustle — Everyone got back on defense, defensemen jumped up where warranted, we kept pucks alive and back checked threatened breakaways.
++ Players — Top line was good, Peca was very solid, as was Boll. Voracek plays hard and well every game these days. Backman is a great suprise — leading that rush resulting in the Nash goal was terrific. Commodore and Tyutin were good, as usual, and Methot showed well. Zippy (nickname for Russell) showed more decisiveness. Mason was solid, if unspectacular. Maybe start him tomorrow to let his folks see him in Toronto, then let Dubie come in for 2nd and 3rd??
We outworked the Blues for 2 periods, and got away with it . . .barely. My cardiologist is getting pissed . . . Probably a good lesson, and inexpensive enough. Two more big games coming up tomorrow and Saturday. Although we then go on the road for our last extended (3 game) trip, the pace of those 3 games is rather leisurely compared to what they have faced over the past two weeks. Compare our schedule to Minnesota, who inexplicably has had 4 days off for no apparent reason. They pay for it in March, however, when their schedule gets really brutal.
A good win, extending the points earned streak to 6. 11 out of 12 possible points is terrific. Well done, boy! Go Jackets.