A bit more rewarding

January 31, 2007

In late November, the Jackets had just hired Ken Hitchcock.  They had one game left against the Canucks in what had been a long 3-9-1 month.  Because of my inability to control my need to watch hockey, I stayed up for the late start.  As you can read here, I probably should have went to bed.

Last night, it was a little different.  After finishing up a show on the DVR, Mrs. EOB and I remembered that the boys were playing out West.  We switched to the game and settled in for the night.  She fell asleep after the first, but I stayed awake until the very end.  The hockey gods saw to it that I was rewarded for my diligence.

I missed the first four minutes of the game, so I didn’t get to see Anson Carter net his 200th career goal just 0:17 into the game for a 1-0 Jackets lead.  Seeing/hearing the reaction Carter drew the rest of the game each time he touched the puck, I’m sure it would have been worth it.  I like it when a former player who gets booed in his old home has the opportunity to stick it to the fans.  I’m sure most players would publicly deny that the opportunity to score in that type of circumstance would be any different than any other goal they’ve scored.  So I’ll say it for them (whoever they are)…

“Man that goal felt freakin’ sweet!”

Peter Griffin

(Click to enlarge this one)

Ok, sorry about that.  Back to hockey…

I’ll admit that there was a sense of impending doom in this writer’s view of the future when I realized that Ty Conklin would be getting the next two or three starts.  Sure, he played well in relief against the Wild.  But how long can that last?

Buoyed by the vocalized confidence from his teammates, Conklin put forth a respectable effort.  The huge number of juicy rebounds I’d expected were simply not there.  Many shots were either deflected to the outside or absorbed.  It was a textbook example of how a goalie should play not just on the road, but all the time. 

The two goals the Jackets allowed (let’s call them team goals against and not just Ty’s) to Daniel Sedin and Sammi Salo were both on the power play, and neither were particularly confidence draining from a fan’s point of view (at least this fan).  I know that if either of the goals had been one to put the Canucks ahead, that my story would be different.  Especially given that Roberto (seriously, Robber?  Is this Danny Gare making stuff up or do people in Vancouver call him that?) Luongo is a tough nut to crack.  But as it stood, each of the goals was deflating in a momentum sense, but I did not immediately start on a goaltender rant in my living room. 

How refreshing.

Long story short, the scoreless third period was comprised of stretches of boredom punctuated by brief moments of hard hitting, bile, and hate.  The five minute overtime was mostly ho-hum and it came down to the shootout, every hockey purist’s favorite event.

Me, I don’t mind the shootout.  But I know it’s not for everyone.  In the overtime period, Jeff Rimer commented that the Jackets needed to net one in the extra five because looming in the shootout was Roberto Luongo, one of the best in the business.  If I may nitpick a bit:

  1. Does Roberto (or goalies in general) get better in the shootout compared to ‘regular’ play?
  2. Would it not be just as difficult, if not more so, to get a puck past one of the “best in the business” when he has three to five players assisting him the goal of not allowing a puck to cross the end line?
  3. Was the comment less a commendation of Luongo than a marked concern with the considerably less battle tested Ty Conklin?

Whatever it was, when the graphic was displayed just before the shootout began that Luongo had stopped 13 of 18 shots in the one-on-one competition, color commentator Danny Gare remarked, “he’s not that good.” 

And one other thing that baffled me was the Canucks choice to shoot first.  This year, the home team is given the choice to shoot first or last in the shootout.  I’d be interested to do a little digging into which has worked better.  I know this topic has been addressed in the blogosphere at some point in time this year.

Naslund misses, Vyborny scores, Morrison scores (what a wrister, wow!), Nash is stuffed, Green is robbed, and Zherdev wins it.  Two points for the boys, and the win streak (yeah, we can use that term now) is at four.

Vyborny shooutout goal

Blue Jackets RW David Vyborny outlasts Roberto Luongo to put Columbus up 1-0 in the shootout (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

The boys skated off the ice in Vancouver and onto the plane to Edmonton, where they’ll face the Oilers tonight at Rexall Place.  I’m sure I’ll be up late watching.  Hopefully this Western Canada trip is even better than the last one.

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



  1. Aw man, I missed last night’s game. It’s so hard for me to stay up and watch it when they play out west. I did check the scoresheet before I went to bed to see Carter’s 200th, that must have been satisfying. Sounded like a great game, and Zherdev made it a W. Granted, passing the puck wasn’t an option…

  2. […] of Reality #80 Two late nights November 2nd, 2007 I’ve spoken before about my love/hate relationship with staying up late to watch Pacific Time Zone road trips.  But no matter what […]

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