Monday, January 25, 2016

Joey's Lid Hits the Ice, Cam Gets a Hattie

Cam Gets A Hat Trick
Ok, there is nothing better than exiting Nationwide Arena with a hat that has the price tag, and a hook in the top of it, because you needed to purchase a new head gear while leaving due to a hat trick.  My buddy Bruce tossed an All-Star hat tonight.  My lid was one that I really liked.  It was the design that Joey (Ryan Johansen) was wearing when he signed his deal after missing training camp.  It is the second of that design that I had, having tossed the original for a hat trick in the glory run last year, and running downstairs to get the last of that model hat.  I've been wearing this one all year, with few exceptions.

Never go to a game with a hat you are unwilling to toss.  It's one of the unique traditions of the game, a celebration of something that is uncommon and hard to get.  Trust me, I have a hat I rarely wear to regular season games because I won't toss it unless its a playoff hat trick.  Besides, I prefer to wear a good one, because I like that, but I also wear one I will toss.  Heck, I lost a really sweet gray one to a Jeff Carter hat trick, and I have never found another like that one.  I regret that all the time, but hey, you gotta do what you gotta do.  So it was truly awesome to see Cam get the hat trick tonight.  It was a great treat to the home town crowd.  Montreal didn't mean to cough that goal up, and that will simmer before tomorrow's game.

It was a funny game.  Not a real vocal crowd, but one that took umbrage with a PK Subban unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for shoving Dubinsky after he lofted a shot from beyond the blue line that somehow managed to go in on Korpisalo.  I was surprised the penalty was called.  After that the crowd booed Subban lustily every time he touched the puck.  I kinda don't like that, because when we do that to Jeff Carter, it seems to ignite his inner lazy man and makes him rise to new heights.  Subban is a much more interesting character than Carter, but the explosion I feared from the booing never emerged.  Perhaps we'll see it tomorrow.

But there is a subtle difference in our team that is emerging.  And perhaps my tossing of my last 'Joey' model hat is symbolic of that.  I felt Seth Jones was really stretched tonight by the speed of Montreal.  That is part of the testing he is seeing in his new role, and there will be times when it does not go perfectly.  But our defense is totally different then it was before 'the trade'.  It is not yet a finished product.  That may be more than a year away.  But the rough cut looks dramatically improved, even with Savard out of the lineup.

There are those who would point out that Dubinsky is no Johansen, and that the team is worse for the exchange of Jones for Johansen.  And then there are those, like me, that would point out that historically our team has played its best hockey when we had 3 second lines and a damn good fourth line.  Tonight's line up looked a lot closer to that model then the team we iced earlier in the year.  I wonder how Torts would feel about that concept.  Lori Schmidt?   Little help here?

Joonas Korpisalo skates away with the win tonight, after taking a rookie lesson from Subban on playing shots from behind the blue line.  To me, it just seemed to catch him flat footed, but I might be doing him a disservice.  I watched his body language after that, and he was distinctly unhappy about the whole thing.  Props to the rest of the team for picking him up and giving the support for the win.  I am assuming Forsberg gets the net tomorrow night, as both of these guys are developing goal tenders, and the need the ice time.  They should both be in the AHL, or at least one of them, but here they are.  They both need the net.  I am very pleased for Joonas Korpisalo.  He has been very steady, but make no mistake, this process is rushing him.  But he seems to be responding well.

Speaking of rookies, Jeff Little is at it again over on the Cannon.  Please read this post.  It is a very thoughtful treatment of the youth issue.  We're lucky to have writers like this in our blogosphere.

All in all, a very fun hockey game, with the special treat of a hat trick.  How can you go wrong with that?  Back in the saddle tomorrow on the back end of the home and home.  Montreal will have a burr under its saddle.  The Jackets better be ready to skate tomorrow!  Hattie!! Whoo!!  Cam!!


Saturday, January 23, 2016

A Good Effort, A Decent Outcome

Korpisalo looked good tonight.
The Blue Jackets lost at the Boston Bruins tonight in a shootout, 3-2.  The CBJ played well, containing a hot Boston power play, and answering when Boston made the big push in the second period.  A lot of positives to take away from tonight's game, while maintaining our advantageous draft position.  This is big experience for our rookies, and they seemed to show well when playing against a powerful team.

After playing the Bruins to a 0-0 draw in the first period, the Bruins came out flying, and knocked the young Jackets back on their heels, scoring two quick goals.  The Jackets stiffened, and caught a bit of luck when Dalton Prout beat Gustavsson short side for a quick goal to make it 2-1.  The Jackets fended off the responding push by Boston, and then pushed back themselves, with a confident shot by Falk getting tipped in by Kerby Rychel for his second goal of the year.  That tied the game, which is where it stayed through the third period and overtime.

Boston managed to score twice in the shoot out, while Gustavsson stiffened, and denied the CBJ to decide the game.  Korpisalo played very well in this game, and played well enough to win.  Gustavsson stopped a lot of prime chances in overtime, it's hard to say who deserved it more.  At the end of the day, the CBJ walk away with a point.

No angst about tonight's game.  It is what it is.  Seth Jones made at least two incredible saves at the point on the power play.  In the past, those go back up the ice.  The CBJ did not capitalize on his plays, but that will come in time.  Jones is a heck of an athlete, and an excellent defenseman.  His future is quite bright.

We jump to a home and home against Montreal on Monday and Tuesday, with the home game in Columbus on Monday.  That should be a lot of fun.


The Stuff of Gypsy Curses

Putting the Coach in the Press Box
Wow!  What a couple of days for our star crossed NHL franchise!  Poor Rene Bourque catches a rut in the much anticipated outdoor practice, accidentally takes out Coach Tortorella, and breaks two of his ribs.  Bob goes back on Injured Reserve, and Jarmo states emphatically that surgical repair is not an option for this injury, thus trashing my last post.  Gosh if I could get Bob healthy by having Jarmo trash my posts, I'd take that deal in a second.  Plus, Jarmo would have lots to work with, as my posts are eminently trashable.  Ha ha.  Hoo boy!

So Torts is back in the Cowtown, nursing two broken ribs, and Craig Hartsburg handles the bench chores tonight in Boston.  Foligno and Calvert came back off injured reserve, and Hannikainen was sent back down to Lake Erie, where he promptly fed Chaput for an overtime winner last night. So one less rookie to start, leaving us with four, one of the goalies, Rychel, Anderson, and Karlsson.  Boston is in the middle of the pack in the Atlantic and the Eastern Conference, flirting with a wild card slot.  This won't be an easy game.

I stole the tag line for this post from an old Puck Daddy post long ago, when oft-injured Pascal LeClaire was still between the pipes.  He had gotten injured in a game, and was on the bench, when he was struck with a puck and sustained a broken jaw.  'The stuff of gypsy curses' was Puck Daddy's summary, and yesterday was eerily reminiscent of that time.  So thanks Wysh, Lambert or Leahy, whoever came up with that line.  I love it.

Circle the wagons boys.  It may be awhile before the cavalry arrives.


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Time For Bob to See the Doctor in Philly

Tonight Sergei Bobrovsky left the game in the second period with a lower body injury, in his second game returning from a groin injury.  This after he was activated, but then went back on injured reserved.  This is a bad groin, and its time to visit that Doctor in Philadelphia.

Let's review the Doctor's resume.  He repaired a bad groin repair for Marion Gaborik, an injury that had plagued him for years, which ultimately allowed Gaborik to win a Cup with LA.  But he was fixed on our time.  Brandon Dubinsky went to the same guy last year, and his groin problems are a thing of the past.  The reason is that this Doctor fixes all of the groin tears, not just the one that sidelined you.  And any hockey player worth his or her salt probably has at least a couple of minor tears, that don't impeded their game.  It's time Bob.  And make sure you have both groins fixed.

This is a really hard threshold for a professional athlete to cross.  You never want to go the surgical option early, because it will be a firm 6 weeks for return.  No early return, no working through it, 6 weeks.  But its time Bob.  By the way, this is a little personal journey through hell.  Many people take it, but I suspect it is amplified for highly paid professional athletes.

The reason I do this blog, the reason I read it in the first place, was an attempt to gain perspective on our beloved CBJ.  I wanted to understand.  So let me share a little something.  I have had both of my knees replaced.  I now have metal and plastic where I used to have shredded cartilage and bone on bone.  To get there I went through two butt kicking surgeries three weeks apart, followed by 6 weeks of therapy.  That is a painful and lonely journey, but thank God I had Mrs. Gallos to help me out.

It's not easy to get there.  The mental challenge is immense.  I always viewed knee replacement in the stark terms of 'having my knees sawed off'.  I finally got to point where I was in so much pain on a daily basis that having my knees sawed off could only be regarded in terms of incremental pain magnitude that no longer seemed to be a challenge.    That's when I knew it was time to have it done.

 Rehab is hell.  When you get out of surgery, no matter how 'in shape' you are, your leg feels like it weighs a thousand pounds.  You have to gain all of that back on your own, all the range of motion and strength.  I will make a somewhat proud confession here.  Derek Dorsett was my inspiration and source of strength during rehab.  When the chips were down, I would ask myself what double D would do.  And that answer was obvious.  Grind away at it.  And Dorsett's inspiration never let me down.  I walked 72 miles short of 2000 miles last year according to my Garmin Vivofit, 2 years after my double knee replacement.  I'm glad to be here, but I never would have made it without Derek Dorsett.  It's hard to have him in Vancouver now, but there it is.  I owe a lot to him.

This is the kind of journey Bob is facing.  He will be fine.  His work ethic is impeccable, and rehab is all about your work ethic.  Bow your back, and get to work.  Mrs. Bob will be there to help him, though I would point out Sergei, that Mrs. Gallos got a new car after the knee gig.  Take care of those who take care of you.  It's time Bob.  Get those groins fixed, so we can see who you really are.  You have your CBJ hockey family to support you, as I did.  That means a lot in the dark times.

The Jackets lost a must lose game tonight to Calgary.  Does Calgary realize that?  So who won in the long run tonight, eh?

Time to make yourself well Bob.  I wish you the best in that, and all other things.


Tuesday, January 19, 2016


Rychel Records First NHL Goal
Tonight the Blue Jackets lost to a team that deserved to win, the Washington Capitals, by a score of 6-3.  It was closer than that, but it wasn't.  Barry Trotz has this Capitals team playing at a peak performance level, and I emphasize the word team.  The Capitals created chances for their shooters that gave them time and space, and they cashed in on those chances.  The CBJ played well, especially in the first period, but the Capitals seized their chances, and converted with shooters isolated on a rusty goal tender.  A hot Bobrovsky would have gotten some of those, but he wouldn't have had them all, and the outcome would not have changed.

One thing I really like about Alex Ovechkin.  He gives no quarter, but he expects no quarter.  Late in the game, the CBJ knock him down, he hops up and skates away.  No Prima Ballerina there, but a guy who will harm you if you give him a chance.  I think it is fair to say that I don't hate losing to Ovechkin the same way I hate losing to Crosby (Messieur la Prima Ballerina).

One thing I like about our young players is that the seem to skate when in doubt.  They make our team seem quicker than it was earlier in the season, and I suspect it is a function of raw speed.  Which is a good thing in the long run, if we improve team speed, because the other guy is surely trying to improve their team speed.  The line of Borque, Karlsson, and Rychel comes to my mind here.  They had some really dominant shifts, but the game turned on other circumstances, particularly the power play for the Capitals.

Washington is a team at the top of their game.  Props to them.  Stick tap to Coach Trotz, for having them play so well.  I like what our team did tonight, but the opponent was superior and deserved the win.  The Caps face larger challenges, such as winning in the playoffs.  Much like the Bengals, this is what will define this team.  But I never got the sense tonight that the Caps were extraordinarily lucky.  They played within themselves and they got the win they deserved.  This is a time for honing what they have, as sterner tests await them.  Yet one gets the sense that they have more in the tank, which will serve them well in the playoffs.

But, before I get accused of being a Caps lover, I want to re-direct attention to our beloved CBJ.  Tonight was a big night for Wild Bill Karlsson, and he had the matchups going.  I liked his line all night.  However, that wasn't what I really meant.  I want to direct you to a couple of articles over on the Cannon.  First of all, Jeff Little drops the second of his articles about the state of the team, which will make you cross NHL GM off the list of things you want to be, and Dan's follow-up article which reacts to the reaction to the first pair of articles.  I really like Dan's evaluation of the last few years, especially since it is one of those rants fueled by frustration that give you uncanny insight.  If you care about the Jackets, read these posts.  They are top notch.

I'm not about blowing smoke.  But I really like good work, that helps me to have a perspective about the hockey I am watching. I feel the posts I mentioned above help me to understand the dynamic of our franchise.  Because at this stage of the game, our franchise has its own history, and there is a flow to it that should help us to project toward the future.  Maybe.  As Jeff Little says, this is an uncertain endeavor, and has its own risks.  Most of the CBJ teams I have known were playoff bound in the preseason.  Its those other pesky 29 teams who think the same thing that are the problem.  If they would simply bow to our natural superiority, we would have won a couple of Cups.  Unfortunately, they seen disinclined in that area, and seem focused on winning our Cups for themselves.  Humph.  What a negative attitude.  Hee hee.  Which is what it is all about.


Monday, January 18, 2016

Musings on the Youth Movement

Rookie Kerby Rychel
In Saturday's game against Colorado, the CBJ started 5 rookies.  Korpisalo in goal, Rychel, Anderson, Karlsson, and Hanikainen.  That's one fourth of your skaters.  I'm not really sure what to make of this.  Ultimately, I guess I think it is a good move for this team at this time.  The problem comes next year, when you both want to be good AND you are going to have a lot of second year players.  That's not necessarily a really reliable mix.  Playing a lot of rookies, even very talented ones is not necessarily a recipe for success; ask Edmonton if you don't believe me.

Nonetheless, these rookies don't seem dramatically out of place in the NHL.  But I don't think you can really count on rookies for a lot of scoring, as their first task generally is to learn to contain the rest of the NHL, a fundamental prerequisite for staying in the league.  And, one advantage of having them up this year is they get to learn from the new coach, so they don't really have much, if anything, to unlearn.

It has been stated that Rychel and Anderson are going to get a 'long' look.  What that means is that you are going to watch them for at least 20 games.  The first 15 games of any new player in a new organization is a glimpse of the maximum they can be.  Think Kevin Connauton.  He had the 15 game burst, scored once more after that and everyone thought 'see, it's not just the 15 games!'  But his scoring tailed off sharply after that, never to return to that level.  He is young, and we'll see, but I suspect he will never match that burst he had after the Jackets claimed him off waivers from the Stars.

To me, that 15 games means a couple of things.  First off, the player is past any adrenaline that comes from being in the big show, or wanting to make an impression after a trade.  Secondly, the rest of the NHL has thoroughly scouted you in the context of your new team.  They know how they want to play against you, and who they want to match up against you, whereas in those first 5 games especially, this may not be clear to other teams.

The Rychel camp seems to believe that Kerby is ready for the NHL.  That may be, he has shown reasonably well so far.  The 'true' read, is after that 15 game mark.  Has he stabilized his game?  Is it showing signs of growing?  Does he appear to learn from his mistakes?

I think Alexander Wennberg will be a great player in this league.  I think Wild Bill Karlsson is right there with him.  They both have had games where they really struggled.  But they seem to be adept at taking the lessons learned from those games, and moving forward with them.  Those are the type of attributes we want to be looking for in this last half of the season.  When they get beat, do they learn from it, and then apply the lessons later?  If the answer is yes, this group might be scary good in a couple of years.  We shall see.


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Kids Are Alright

Joonas Korpislo gets the win against Toronto
I'm kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop.  Normally when the CBJ win in Toronto, there is some sort of major catastrophe in the NHL to distract the media from the fact that the Jackets beat the Leafs 3-1 tonight.  The Jackets played a much stiffer game than last night, and didn't wilt against a lot of Toronto pressure (41 shots on goal).

Today the organization lost a second defenseman to the waiver wire, as Kevin Connauton was claimed by Arizona, who sent All-Star Captain John Scott to the AHL in order to claim him.  (Bettman:  Take a memo!  To - Arizona Coyotes, From: the Commish, Subject: All-Star Game, WTF? Etc.)  Arizona claims they will have him back in the NHL in time for the All-Star Game.  So naturally, David Savard was injured in today's game, and did not finish the game after one shift in the second period.  When they told Seth Jones he would get more minutes because of the trade they weren't kidding.  Seth Jones gets his first point as a Blue Jacket, when Boone Jenner deflected his shot to make it a 1-0 game in the first period.

Another thing the Jackets did was after a rather undisciplined first period in which they took 3 penalties, the settled down and stayed out of the box the rest of the way.  Wennberg got a really nice rebound goal off a play started by Scott Hartnell to push it to 2-0 in the second, and the Jackets did a decent job of locking the game down.  Toronto finally scored with the goal tender pulled, and our fourth line on the ice, but the Jackets finished the game with the empty netter.

Important points, the win, the kids all played well, with a better overall effort, Seth Jones is awesome, our defense is already better, and Wennberg seems to be stepping into the void created by Joey's trade.  Karlsson is coming hard in his wake, and Anderson and Rychel are playing hard.  Korpisalo plays a really nice game, very steady.  Good stuff.

Next up, Colorado in Nationwide Arena on Saturday.  Should be interesting to see how the kids match up against Colorado.


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Youth Continue to Develop

Karlsson Gets A Goal
The Blue Jackets fell to the New York Islanders tonight 5-2 in the Barclay's Center, as rookies across the lineup continued to gain experience.  While Forsberg struggled with tidiness around his net, and seemed to give up lots of rebounds, it was giving Brock Nelson time and space that did him in, as Nelson placed some pretty nice shots on him when provided with the aforementioned time and space.

Karlsson was all over the ice tonight, hustling to pick up a rebound goal off a Jack Johnson shot, and drew a couple of penalties as well as killing penalties effectively.  Later in the game Tortorella was playing an all rookie line of Rychel, Anderson and Karlsson, which looked fast and effective.  Naturally there will be learning moments for them, but they still looked good.

The power play did not produce a goal, but boy oh boy is it coming.  When Wennberg, Murray, and Seth Jones are on that power play, they can really move the puck.  They haven't buried the shots, but this is something with real top end potential.  Jones made some fantastic saves at the blueline, and that power play unit developed real pressure.  Some more play together and they are going to start burying some shots.  Young players will have ups and downs, but there was a lot of up in the youngsters collective game tonight.  So there it is.

Toronto tomorrow, should be interesting.


Sunday, January 10, 2016

And the CBJ Get Younger

Josh Anderson gets his first NHL goal.
As young as the CBJ have been this year, amazingly, they are getting even younger and lest experienced.  Now that grizzled veteran Nick Foligno, all of age 28, is down with an injury for a bit, Kerby Rychal has come in to replace him.  In addition, Josh Andeson has been called up for an extended look, and we have a pair of rookies as the goal tending tandem in Forsberg and Korpisalo.  William Karlsson is a rookie, and newly acquired Seth Jones is 21, though he has played 200 NHL games, making him widely experienced.  Veteran All-Star Brandon Saad just turned 23,  and Wennberg is only in his second year.  Yowza that is a lot of youth.

So when Porty legitimately poses the question over in Puck Rakers  about why this squad was out hustled for 6 periods, my response is youth.  They are going through it all for the first time, first trip to Raleigh, first games against the 'Canes, and as a group they aren't operating at full NHL speed yet.  An illustration last night was a quick pass through the slot from Saad to Wennberg, that Wennberg had to kick up to his stick.  The action of kicking the puck up to his stick gave the goal tender just enough time to get set for the laser shot that came in right after.  With more experience, and in the future, that puck is on the money and Wennberg has a really great chance.  I think that is the process we are going through right now, and it just takes some time.

Back to the game.  The NHL declined to impose further discipline on Brad Malone for his hit on Nick Foligno.  I thought it was a head shot.  Until I watched the player safety video.  They did a good job.  The CBJ, rightfully so, assessed their own penalty when Jared Boll dropped the gloves with Malone at 2:15 gone in the game.  Malone manned up and stood in there.  Good on him, all square now.  After that, Carolina settled into patiently breaking down our defense, scoring a power play goal, and getting good penetration to the net that resulted in at least one more.

Down 3-0, and on the penalty kill late in the second period crafty veteran Cam Atkinson (age 26) stole the puck and went the length of the ice to score the short handed goal, a real beauty.

Sorry folks, my power went out, and is still out, so I'll finish this later.


Thursday, January 7, 2016

Jarmo Goes Fishing in the Deep Water

In late December in this space, I wrote about the need to do something about the defensive corps, and one of our readers mentioned trading for a number 1 defenseman.  And I remember quietly thinking 'I wish'.  I think my point in that post, amongst the rambling, was that the time was now for this organization to solidify it's defensive corps.

I titled that post 'fish or cut bait', thinking that the CBJ would be forced by market considerations to just cut bait, to wait for our current group of defenseman to mature.  Little did I know that Jarmo had baited up a couple of meat hooks with whole chicken carcasses, and was out trolling in the deep water.  And boy did he land a big fish.

Seth Jones is not going to strap the CBJ on his back and lead them to the promised land in the next month.  It is well to be patient with this young man, as he feels his way through new situations he didn't play much in Nashville.  There will be mistakes.  That's what happens to young defensemen.  And the power play minutes and PK minutes will be new to him.  But he is ready for it, and once he gets his feet wet, he will be fine.  And he lifts our whole defensive corps to a new level.

The league wide consensus seems to be that this was a good hockey trade, and that is my personal belief.  If you define a good hockey trade as one that benefits both organizations and both players, then I think this trade meets those criteria.  Sort of a win, win, win, win trade.  Even with the hole made by Johansen's departure, I believe that our team is better today then it was yesterday before the trade.  Our need was that great.

I'm looking forward to watching him play.  This should be highly entertaining.


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

CBJ Trade Johansen for Seth Jones

I'm a Pred-a-what?
The Columbus Blue Jackets have announced that they have traded center Ryan Johansen for defenseman Seth Jones in a straight up trade of young, high draft picks.  This is a hockey trade that benefits both clubs, in which they swap fine young players.

Seth Jones was having a difficult time cracking a deep Nashville defensive corps, and will see his minutes leap in Columbus.  Johansen had an awkward start to the year, and was in need of a reset.  There are lots of instances where this has really benefited players, and I think it likely to be the case for Johansen.

Best of luck Joey!  You provided us with some real thrills, and I think you will find that you love Nashville.  Seth, welcome to CBus, we are looking forward to see what you can bring.


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Time, Space, and a Loss

Hartnell was in fine form tonight
Twice, once in the first period, and once in the second, the CBJ gave Zach Parise time and space with the puck, and both times he buried it against the rookie goal tender Anton Forsberg.  In the waning seconds of the game the Jackets gave up two empty net goals, and scored a goal themselves, but these had little influence on the outcome of the game.  The reality was that the Jackets only scored one goal when it counted, and that's not enough to beat most NHL teams.

The one goal was scored by Cam Atkinson off a really quick, very nice feed off the boards behind the net by Scott Hartnell, who had a very good game tonight.  Forsberg was good enough in goal, holding the Wild to 2 goals, but when you only score one, that's not enough.  The CBJ played very conservatively in the first period, but I am hoping that going forward they will have a little confidence in Forsberg.  He did not look out of place.

Once you give Minnesota a lead in a game like this, they shut the game down, and it is very hard to do anything against them.  Perhaps Nashville is the other team that can do this as well, but tonight was a very typical Minnesota win.  For the CBJ, nothing to hang your head over, but not good enough to win.  With Finland winning gold in the World Juniors this year, our Finnish connection may play out well with the draft.  They have some players who looked very good.  The USA took home the bronze, and Werenski and Milano, both CBJ prospects had some good moments in this tournament.  They also had some moments that would indicate that more development time wouldn't hurt.  More on that in a later post.

Could someone please check Ryan Johansen's physical stats from last year and this year?  I swear he looks like he grew an inch, and all of a sudden nothing works.  Twenty-three is late to be having a growth spurt, but these things are different in different people.  He's got the baby moose legs going again, and isn't coordinated in just about everything he does.  Everything seems off kilter.  I think it highly unlikely he will be this way next year.

Weird game, very conservative and slow paced.  A Minnesota game.  Won't make or break your season, and not something to dwell on.  An uncomfortable home loss, to match the earlier road loss.  Minnesota sweeps the series, this is not where you want to be, as you want to at least split these series.  Tortorella has his work cut out for him.


Sunday, January 3, 2016

Forsberg Gets First NHL Win

Anton Forsberg in Training Camp This Year.
Anton Forsberg collected his first NHL win last night as the CBJ prevailed 5-4 in a shootout against the red hot Washington Capitals.  The Caps had won 9 straight before losing to Carolina and then settling for the loser point against the CBJ.  The game swung back and forth, with the CBJ getting on the board early, then the Caps tying the game with their deadly power play.  Braden Holtby, the Capitals goal tender has been on fire lately, with a sub 2 Goals Against Average during the Caps winning streak.  But the CBJ hung 4 regular time goals on him last night to push this one to overtime.

Curtis McElhinney had played well in this game. continuing a stretch of good play lately.  Then early in the overtime period, he went down, and Forsberg had to come in cold off the bench.  I didn't really see what happened to CMac.  According to Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch he got a skate stuck in a rut in the ice as he moved side to side, injuring his leg somehow.  So Forsberg comes in, and the drama starts.  In the first shift, Kuznetsov came in to take a run at the rookie goal tender, and Dubinsky did anything in his power to stop him from getting there, which meant he drew the slashing penalty.  I think this moment loomed large in the shoot out later.  The Jackets rallied, killed the 4 on 3 OT power play, and even drew a penalty of their own toward the end of OT.  Anton Forsberg stopped 6 shots during that power play.

In the shootout,  Holtby had denied Cam Atkinson, and Oshie had put on a clinic on putting the goal tender down to give the Caps a 1-x lead in the shootout.  Dubinsky shot next for the Jackets, and from my perch in the upper bowl, you could tell he was going to score by the time he had taken two strides.  There was just an air of determination about him, and sure enough it seemed his shot was by Holtby before he even had a chance to react.  Forsberg stopped the next Capitals shooter, Ryan Johansen did his filthy slow down roof shot, and set the stage for Forsberg's first win.  A stop on the last Capitals shooter gave the CBJ consecutive wins against two of the better teams in the NHL.

Coming into Tuesday's game it looks like the CBJ will be coming in with the tandem of Korpisalo and Forsberg until we know the extent of  McElhinney's injury.  What does this mean in the grand scheme of things?  Well, these are stepping stones in Forsberg and Korpisalo's development, and we shouldn't be stapling the outcome of these next few games to their careers.  It is a good opportunity, but both of these guys need to be playing, and its ok for that to be at the NHL level.  Ian Clark will have an upgraded opportunity to work with each of them, but they are still goal tenders of the future, not goal tenders of the present.

However, Bobrovsky re-aggravating his groin injury makes me think that the surgical option is probably the way to go there.  It's out for 6 weeks, but look at Dubinsky.  They fixed him right up.  That Doctor in Philly is so good he even fixed Marion Gaborik's groin, and that's saying something.  Time to get it fixed now.  Did you see that Auston Matthews  had a hat trick in the World Juniors yesterday?  There is a young player, already playing against men in Switzerland, with a former NHL coach as his head coach.  Well, that's for later.  But Edmonton's got a shot at the playoffs in the weak Pacific Division, which it would be interesting because someone else would HAVE to win the lottery.
For now, we remain mired in last place, with Tortorella trying to lead the boys out of the desert.  We'll see how successful he is.  Make sure you read this post by Jeff Little over on the Cannon.  Jeff has a knack of seeing things from above the noise and the gnashing of teeth, so find some time to read this one.

Brandon Saad is playing really well now.  It was interesting to see Tortorella take blame for his earlier play.  He's funny that way.  He will protect his players if they earn it.  Wennberg made a really sick pass to Saad for his first goal.  He was pinned on the boards by a 2 on 1, but he beat the 2 on 1 and lasered a backhand pass right on to Saad's stick at the back door of the goal for the easy put in.  It was a heck of a play by the young centerman.  The line of Saad, Wennberg, and Hartnell is causing real problems for other teams, and they are a lot of fun to watch.  Saad's tying goal in the waning moments of the game was one of those wicked back hand shots he can take.  It was all he had, so he just buried it.  Sweet.

It was a fun game.  A good Saturday night crowd, with a fair sprinkling  of Caps fans.  More importantly, the boys defended the home barn, which they need to start doing with regularity.  The last two games have been really fun games.  Back at it on Tuesday against the Wild, with a rookie goal tender in net.  Hoo boy.