Grounded

by Rich M on December 18, 2013 · 0 comments

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There are two major differences this season for Winnipeg and Columbus. While the Jackets are only 3 points out of the 8th and final playoff spot in the East(14-16-4), Winnipeg(15-15-5) is 8 points back in the West and will need a big run in the 2nd half of the season. Unfortunately for them, they made the move to the West this year and there are many good teams that will be sitting home when the dance starts in April.

This wasn’t the Jackets strongest effort and is a major disappointment after the energy they showed on Saturday against St. Louis and the strong effort in New York last Thursday. On Monday there was no fore check and no cycling of the puck. All of the battles in the corners that are usually a trademark of this team when they’re playing well were non-existent. If not for a good effort by goalie Mike McKenna, they could have possibly lost this game 5-2 or worse. By my estimation, they played 13 minutes of good hockey and took the other 47 minutes off.

The turning point of the game might have been in the last minute of the 1st period when an apparent goal by Matt Calvert was overturned. The call was that he bumped Max Montoya in the crease, but it was very clear he was checked into him and didn’t initiate any contact. The CBJ weren’t playing with a ton of energy to begin with, but that goal could have given them much needed momentum to start the 2nd. To be fair, Dalton Prout was lost 50 seconds into the game with an upper body injury and Derek MacKenzie was injured as well in the 1st. To add insult to injury, Fedor Tyutin left the game in the 2nd after hooking James Wright and got whacked in the face by his stick on his follow through after shooting the puck. High stick you say? Part of Rule 60.1: “Players must be in control and responsible for their stick. However, a player is permitted accidental contact on an opponent if the act is committed as a normal windup or follow through of a shooting motion”. This is obviously a rule open to interpretation and at the referee’s discretion. I can’t fault the no call.

The Jackets made a furious attempt at a comeback in the 3rd period, to no avail. Getting 12 hours to reflect on the game left me with a couple of conclusions. First, NO team in the NHL will be effective in the defensive end with only 4 healthy defenseman. Tyutin returned, but that stretch in the 2nd period when the CBJ were playing with 4 defenseman gassed the D-core. Second, losing a player like MacKenzie on the 4th line is a killer. He’s a 100% energy guy who is a spark plug who ignites all 4 lines. The Jackets play 2 more games this week, both against Philadelphia. Steve Mason returns to town!

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