What A Way To End 2008!
Let the record reflect that there were fewer than 30 minutes remaining in the 2008 calendar year when the Jackets wrapped up their 3rd consecutive shutout win — a 2 – 0 decision over the Anaheim Ducks. The Orange County Register blogger who questioned the existence of the Bluejackets in today’s Ducks’ blog now most certainly knows the name of at least one Bluejacket — Steve Mason. Mase was simply spectacular once again, stopping all 27 shots that came his way. Well there was that one errant shot that went in the net but was not counted, due to the whistle having sounded for coincidental minor penalties, plus an extra 2 minutes to the Ducks. He now owns the record for most consecutive scoreless minutes by a Bluejackets goalie — at the age of 20. Oh yeah, he also leads the league in GAA, with a 1.68 or so, and is tied with Luongo for the lead with 5 shutouts. Another game where the two goalies were the first and second stars.
For some classic deadpan humor, you really needed to catch Hitchcock’s comments after the game. Barely suppressing a smile, when asked to comment about Mason, he said something to the effect of “He was O.K. — he was fine.” About 5 seconds later, when asked who starts in Colorado, the answer was simple, direct and immediate — “Mason.” We are getting grand efforts by him when we have needed them most, when our offensive ranks are thinned.
Credit goes to the boys in front of Mason for playing gritty, hard nosed hockey night after night, and doing the little things necessary to win. MacDonald was parked in front when Commodore let his blast go, and had his stick in the right place. After just missing on a long distance pass to spring Huselius, Nash pursued the puck to the boards, gained possession, and fed Peca with a beautiful chance that he buried. Two third period goals that slay the Ducks — a beautiful thing.
With Chimera poised to come off the IR soon, the offense will hopefully begin to pick up. Since I could not watch the first two periods of the game tonight, i can’t give out my usual +/- rankings, but suffice it to say that it certainly looked to be another victory chalked up to superior effort.
Now a well deserved rest to enjoy the New Year, then time to tackle a back-to-back at Colorado and St. Louis. Normally a graveyard for Jackets teams in the past, Colorado is hurt by injuries and lost to Phoenix tonight. St. Louis has also been hampered by injuries in falling to the bottom of the Western Conference standings. No matter, we need to put our feet firmly on their throats and keep up this relentless effort.
Possibilities abound folks — stay tuned!!!! Go Jackets!!!