"It's kind of sad to watch you break down / you greedy f**k you pissed it all away / so who will catch you on your way down / you've only got yourself to blame"
--"On Your Way Down" by Stabbing Westward
There's nothing to take the pressure off after three straight days of trade rumors like some afternoon hockey against a division rival. The Blue Jackets came into this game rested, having not played since Tuesday. The Blackhawks, meanwhile, were coming off a win on Thursday against the Rangers that ended a nine-game skid.
Riding Steve Mason for the fourth straight game due to injury issues with Curtis Sanford, the Jackets were looking to break through for the first time against Chicago on the season in this their fifth meeting. Of course, the pall of "is this Rick Nash's last...?" was long over this game (for me, at least).
Columbus came out humming early, but the tide turned--and it turned quickly--late in the first. Read on for the gory details.
Both teams came out a bit sloppy, feeling each other out. The Jackets would register the first shot, and it was an early turnover from former Jacket Sami Lepisto that got things started. Lepisto was pressured a bit by R.J. Umberger, and sent a clearing pass out of his own zone. Derick Brassard was there to intercept and skate in on Corey Crawford all alone. He unleashed a wicked slapshot that found it's way through Crawford on the blocker side.
1-0 Blue Jackets: Derick Brassard (10th), at 5:13; unassisted - EV
The Jackets' forecheck was relentless for the first 12 minutes of the period, creating chances and really hemming the Blackhawks in their own zone. Umberger got two glorious chances around the 7:30 mark when his initial shot was saved by Crawford, who was down and out of the crease. Umby tried to move around to find some space to bury the second chance, but the Blackhawks collapsed and kept the puck out.
The Jackets kept the pressure on, and were almost rewarded again at the 12:00 mark. Some crisp passing between Brassard, James Wisniewski, and John Moore led to a couple of chances, the last of which was a nice pass to Umberger in the right circle for a one-timer that Crawford stopped but fought a bit.
However, those non-cashed in chances would come back to haunt Columbus, as not 30 seconds later Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp would work the puck out of the zone to Jonathan Toews, who skated it the length of the ice--outskating Jeff Carter along the way--and slip the puck under Mason to tie it at one.
1-1 Tie: Jonathan Toews (29th) at 12:27 from Patrick Sharp and Duncan Keith - EV
This seemed to take all of the wind out of the Columbus sails, as the Hawks took control and tilted the ice their way the rest of the period. And then an unfortunate hope combined with a questionable decision by Mason put the Jackets behind. Mason went behind his net to play a Dylan Olsen dump, and the puck rode the end boards and hopped over Mason's stick. He didn't get back into the net quickly enough, and the puck went around to Bryan Bickell, who then fed it cross-ice to Viktor Stalberg. Stalberg one-timed it on net, and got enough of it to get it by the scrambling Mason. It was Stalberg's 10th goal out of his 16 against Columbus this season.
2-1 Blackhawks: Viktor Stalberg (16th) at 16:38 from Bryan Bickell and Dylan Olsen - EV
The Jackets hung on for dear life as the more-than-half-Chicago crowd roared on. After having a 1-0 lead and out-shooting the Hawks 8-3 at the 12:00 mark, the period ended with the Jackets down 1 both on the scoreboard and on the shot board, 11-10.
End of 1st Period - 2-1 Blackhawks
The second period started almost where the first left off. The Jackets were holding on for dear life, turning the puck over, and the Blackhawks had their way with things. Just 3:00 in, Brett Lebda turned the puck over badly in his own zone, but a recovery kept Jamal Mayers from getting a shot off.
Steve Mason was fighting the puck often, giving up rebounds and having trouble corralling shots. However, he almost got some much needed help from Carter, who had a few nice chances in the period. Early in the period he and Vinny Prospal skated in on a 2-on-1, and Carter ripped a shot that was deflected wide of the net by a Hawks defender. Around the 9:00 mark, the Hawks turned the puck over to Carter in the high slot all alone. He snapped off his patented shot, but Crawford was able to get a piece and force it high over the cage.
At the 10:00 minute mark, Ryan Russell and Colton Gillies had a nice chance as Russell threw a puck across on a rush. Gillies redirected it in front of Crawford, but it was just wide to the right of the net. Then, from the 12 through 13 minute marks, the Jackets had a great possession, keeping the puck in the zone and launching several shots. Lebda got several off from the point.
But, the Hawks would put this one away in a two minute stretch. Toews, from behind the Jackets' net, sent a pass around to Patrick Kane, who then fed it cross-ice to a wide, WIDE open Patrick Sharp. Sharp's one timer was enough to beat a sprawling Mason.
3-1 Blackhawks: Patrick Sharp (24th) at 13:39 from Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews - EV
And then, it was time for the patented Steve Mason Soft-Ass Goal. Sharp and Toews fed the puck to Kane, who cruised into the zone and launched a shot that appeared to surprise Mason. It trickled through his pads as he fell backward, and slid into the net. The rout was on, and Mason was pulled in lieu of Allen York.
4-1 Blackhawks: Patrick Kane (13th) at 15:30 from Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp - EV
According to several reports, Mason was seen on the bench shouting at coach Todd Richards after being pulled from the game. Afterward, Mason confirmed that he was jawing with a Blackhawks fan. You stay classy, Steve Mason. "I don't think it was anything," Richards said afterward. "I haven't had a chance to talk to him about it."
On pulling Mason, Richards cited his game to that point, that fourth goal specifically, and the fact that the club has to play tomorrow in New York, with no real other options in goal.
Columbus got another chance to eat into the lead with a high sticking penalty to Dave Bolland (on MacKenzie) at the 16:37 mark. The Jackets got a couple of nice shots off, highlighted by a James Wisniewski point shot at 18:00 that led to a rebound. Carter got his stick on it, but a snow-angeling Crawford kept it out.
With 40 seconds to go, the Hawks almost added additional insult to injury, with a break-in by Nick Leddy. He deked and beat York, but his shot was just wide and hit the outside of the net.
End of 2nd Period: 4-1 Blackhawks
It got uglier. And it happened early. The Jackets couldn't get much going, and the Hawks were relentless. Two quick goals--one off a nice set of passes, and the other off a turnover/point shot--salted it away for Chicago.
6-1 Blackhawks: Sami Lepisto (1st) at 5:32 from Dave Bolland - EV
Coach Richards called timeout. "I was embarrassed with the way we were playing," Richards said. "
Right after the timeout, Derek Dorsett--in his words--"lost it," going after John Scott. Scott also happened to be the biggest guy on the Hawks' roster, and the beating reflected as much. Dorse got five for fighting, two for instigating, a 10-minute instigating misconduct, and a 10-minute misconduct. "It's embarrassing, what had just gone on," Dorsett told me. "Getting beat 6-1 by those guys, it's unacceptable, and I just kinda snapped, I guess."
John Moore took a slashing penalty at 11:02, and on the PK, Wisniewski blocked back to back shots off his legs. He struggled to get to the bench after the clear. He then went straight down the tunnel to the dressing room. Not good for Wiz after coming back from the broken ankle from--you guessed it--blocking a shot. He was back later on the ice, but no official update came from the team right after the game.
FInal Score: Blackhawks 6, Blue Jackets 1
Kane, Toews, and Sharp - that line was destructive all night, and the Jackets had no answers. If Columbus is going to rebuild, they would do well to have the kind of draft success the Hawks had with Kane and Toews. Those guys are deadly.
Derick Brassard - another goal off a nice steal and a better shot. Brassard is really flourishing now that Scott Arniel has moved on.
Bottom of the Barrel:
Steve Mason - it's bad enough to give up some of the goals he gave up, but to get into it with a fan? From the opposing team? What is this, high school? Mason is incapable of handing adversity of ANY kind, it seems, and after Toews scored his beauty goal in the first, Mason imploded.
Passing - or, should I say, lack thereof? The Jackets throw a lot of passes that seem to go where they think a player might be. The turnovers were rampant today.
Blackhawks fans - I don't blame them for filling our arena. Cheaper tickets, a Saturday afternoon game, not too far a trip. But come on. There were guys below me that spent the entire third period talking about how much of a joke our city is, and how we don't deserve the All Star Game. Apparently, they forgot that, prior to Kane and Toews arriving, their team was a freaking joke, as well. 59 points in '03-'04! Also, they cat-called throughout the entire National Anthem, which for the life of me I just don't get. Stay classy!
The Jackets are right back at it tomorrow in New York, taking on the Rangers. Perhaps Rick Nash or Jeff Carter will be auditioning for a new team?