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What does competitive composure mean to you?

January 10, 2007

I’ve been fighting a losing battle with a wicked cold since Saturday, and haven’t had the energy or awake time to put much up here.  But I’ve been able to follow most of the relevant sporting events that have played out over the last few days.  Not much positive has happened for this sports fan since last Friday, so let’s start there.

In my last official post, I put up the game preview for the Jackets’ contest at the Honda Center (or the place that Mrs. EOB will forever refer to as “The Pond”) against the Anaheim Ducks.  It was a Friday night, and I had every intention of staying up for the duration.  After one, it was tied at 0-0.  Pretty fair against the top team in the conference.  In the second, the Jackets went down 2-0, and I went to my computer to tell Earl over at Battle of California that I was turning in for the night because the fun was running thin watching the Jackets that night. 

Instead of sleep, I decided to watch some DVR’ed shows.  After watching the first 30-minute show, I checked the score to see that the Jackets were now losing 3-1.  Well, at least I wasn’t wasting my time.  NEXT SHOW!  After the second show, I flipped back to FSN to see that the Jackets were up 4-3 (are you kidding me!?!) with 20 seconds to go.  I quickly hit ‘rewind’ on the remote to see what had happened, figuring I’d have to sift through the entire period to find the last three goals.  Amazingly enough, I found them all in the last four minutes.  I watched that last bit twice (once to make sure they ended up winning before waking up Mrs. EOB, and then again with the wife), and still couldn’t believe it. 

Ken Hitchcock has talked about competitive composure being one of the tenets to playing strong hockey.  Though you couldn’t tell in the 30+ minutes I watched, apparently the Jackets never gave up because they came back to win.  With less than four minutes to go, being down by two, Columbus worked hard and came up with two points.  Competitive composure, indeed.

Saturday night, the boys travelled north to face San Jose in another tough game.  I didn’t get a chance to see any of this game, but you can read enough about it here, here, here, and here.  It is difficult for me to understand how the referees can make a mistake of that magnitude (I’m not going to detail it, you’ll have to read the links), but it’s in the past and I have to imagine that this particular error won’t happen again soon.  It’s clear from the reports I’ve read that this event shook the Jackets pretty hard and they went on to lose to the Sharks, 5-2.  Would the Jackets have won if the mistake hadn’t been made?  We’ll never know.  But in the face of adversity for the second night in a row, the Jackets made it quite evident that they had used their cache of competitive composure and fell to the mighty Sharks.

Sunday was a big old “who cares” sports day for me, as my NFL team (The Clowns) have been out of it since July.  Mrs. EOB and I went out and got some new running shoes (awesome!), and we did manage to catch the NY Giants defense allow the Eagles to march right down the field to end the game on a David Akers field goal.  Little did I know that the collapse would not be the worst I’d see that week.

Here’s your short, obligatory post-BCS Championship post from a Buckeye fan.  First of all, congratulations to the Florida Gators.  They played a whale of a game, and if I weren’t an Ohio State alumnus I surely would have enjoyed watching the Gators dismantle the Buckeyes.  As the game wound down, I could hear the excuses bubbling in Columbus:

  • 51 days off
  • Heisman curse
  • 51 days off
  • Teddy Ginn got hurt
  • 51 days off
  • SEC speed
  • 51 days off

Smith sacked

When you’ve only been off for 37 days, you don’t even need a helmet (AP Photo)

And while all of these things may have had some part in the landslide victory for UF, what it all really boils down to is this (which hurts to say and believe, but I think is true): bad coaching/gameplan.  All of the minor excuses seen above played a part, but could have been minimized by excellent game planning or coaching adjustments.  I’m not saying OSU should have won the game, but they should have competed.  In the end, there is no reason to make excuses.  The Buckeyes got beat by a better team.  End of story.

Last night the Blue Jackets returned home to face a division opponent in the Blues.  I didn’t get to see much of this one either, but I did see the shootout.  I was pleased to see Vyborny and Zherdev score on their shots, but when Lee Stempniak scored to put St. Louis up 3-2 with one shooter left I knew it didn’t matter who the Jackets were going to put out there: they were going to lose.  With Rick Nash and Sergei Fedorov out with injuries, Columbus does not have more than those two threats on the shootout.

Like it or not, the shootout is here for now.  Sure, we got a point last night.  But two would have been better.  The Jackets are off until Friday, when they begin a stretch of four games in seven nights where three of the four are against Nashville.  Hopefully this stretch against the Predators is better than the last. 

I will be headed to the game on Saturday with Mr. EOB, Sr., NOB (Not on the Bench, Drew’s brother), and and uncle and cousin.  Every year, we try to do a family hockey outing.  We’ve done CBJ and OSU games in the past (thanks lockout!), and it’s always a good time.  Hopefully we get a win this year.

Thanks for stopping by the End of the Bench.  Come back soon.

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