Two late nights

November 2, 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 I think the outcome may be, there’s not much that can stop me from sitting on my couch and watching late night hockey.  I love it, even if nobody loves my demeanor the next day.

Heading west on a plane with three consecutive wins tucked in their pocket, the Jackets would land and have to face the equally hot LA Kings (winners of four in a row), and an anticipated rumble with the Anaheim Ducks, defending Cup champs.  Neither game would be easy, but many Jacket fans were now in the mode of expecting points and wins instead of the usual dosage of losing away from home.  I’m not brave enough to expect wins just yet, but I was definitely going to tune in and expect to see a couple of good games (okay, that’s kind of a lie.  I expected to beat the Kings, there… I said it).

Wednesday night, the Jackets played hard and got out to a 3-0 lead before Kyle Calder finally snuck one past Pascal Leclaire (one of NHL’s Three Stars for October) on the power play.  The team looked decent for the first 30 minutes of the game, and then seemed to coast a bit to the end.  Rick Nash iced the cake with an empty netter to close out the part one of the SoCal excursion.

Thursday night, the Blue Jackets did not look nearly as cohesive as the evening before.  There are those out there saying that this was a great game to watch, like a playoff contest.  I’ll agree with Michael Arace when he says that this was a contest with great texture.  Jared Boll’s fight with Travis Moen was as expected as Christmas, and almost as anticipated.  Peeling off the wrapping paper and dropping the gloves, neither Moen nor Boll disappointed their respective fans and we all smiled around the fireplace.

My take on last night’s game is that we were lucky to come away with a point.  The players and coaches called it a good or great point to get, and I suppose given the circumstances surrounding the game (second night of a back-to-back, absorbing the physicality the Ducks were reserving the Boll and the Jackets, first road trip of more than one game for the team, etc) it was a good point. 

But did anybody else in Columbus watch the same game I did last night? 

The passing was not crisp, the power play had trouble leaving the zone, and as Mrs. EOB put it so well, “they look like five individual units out there and not a team.”  I know how tired I was after staying up late to watch both of those games, so I understand that the team may have been a bit worn down towards the end of the game last night.  The Ducks did not play a great game last night, and if the Jackets had not been off as well I’d suggest that they had a chance to steal a game away from home.  But I can’t say that.  I guess the best way to describe my feelings about that game would be to say that the guys looked uncomfortable out on the ice.  Hopefully this gets addressed and fixed before the upcoming slate of games.  The next eight contests are against division opponents.

A few not-so-random or unrelated thoughts:

  • It’s an admittedly small sample size on which to pass judgement, but because shootouts are part of the NHL game it might be time to look at some other shooters.  That is all on this for now.
  • Anecdotally, the Blue Jackets are doing a much better job of clearing rebounds and not allowing second and third chance shots this year.  That said, the last two goals scored against the team have been on second chance shots where the puck was not cleared or covered.
  • Is it just me, or has David Vyborny been pretty much invisible so far?  0-4-4 and minus-3 while averaging 19:00 TOI.  All four assists have either been on Rick Nash goals, or were second assists where Nash got the first assist.  The chemistry between the two has always been good, but I didn’t imagine that the link would be that strong.  With Modin likely out for a week or longer, will #9 see any time on a line with #19 and #61, or will it be #13?  We’ll find out on Sunday.

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

– Drew

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