Two games into the season, the Blue Jackets have 3 points that would have to surprise even the most die hard fans. They took 2 very good teams into the skills competition and, but for one of the sickest goals you'll probably see all season, could have started the season 2-0.
Last night against Detroit, there were many great things and several not so great things. So here is my good cop/bad cop review.
Good Cop: Holy Bobrovsky. Sergei stood on his head making, not only a large quantity of saves, but also made the saves at important times to bail his team out. Sure the Wings hit several posts. But as any goalie will tell you, that's just because everything else was covered.
Bad Cop: Something has to be done about the Jack Johnson/James Wisnewski defense pairing. They can do some very incredible things in the offensive zone, but they have spent more time than not scrambling haplessly in their own. In both 3rd periods so far, they have improved. But they need to bring a more consistent defensive game or be split up if they are going to be effective in the long run.
Bad Cop: It became quite apparent against a skilled (though struggling) team like Detroit that this incarnation of the Jackets just doesn't have the skill to match up against the rest of the league.
Good Cop: When you don't have the skill, you have to work extra hard. And work they did. Outside of the Wings 2nd goal that caught everyone watching, I didn't notice anyone taking a shift off all night. Now, sometimes they didn't do the right thing or didn't get there in time to do the right thing, but at least they were working to do something. Teams lacking skill also have to make the most of the chances they get. They also did that last night. The Power Play clicked and generated 2 goals and many more chances. Cam Atkinson, who is going to struggle to find open ice as he faces the opposition's top defenders each night, proved that if you give him just a hint of wiggle room, he's going to burn you.
Good Cop: Coaching. The staff did an incredible job, keeping the Tyutin/Nikitin pairing out against Datsyuk/Zetterberg as much as possible and keeping the Johnson/Wisnewski pair away from them all but twice by my count.
Bad Cop: Coaching. I'm going to lose this argument, but I have to keep making it. I don't like Derek Dorsett on the penalty kill. He got caught scrambling on the tying Wings goal just as the penalty expired. I also would have liked seeing John Moore get more ice time. There is no way he could have looked more lost in the defensive zone than JJ/Wiz did at times.
Good Cop: Jared Boll stepped up and fought long time Blue Jackets rival Jordan Tootoo right off the opening faceoff. It set the tone right from the beginning that the Jackets were going to go toe to toe with the Wings all night.
Bad Cop: It was a risky move that paid off. I'd give Boll the win in a close, well-fought decision, but Tootoo has won far more of these tilts than he has lost and it could have easily set the tone in the other direction from the beginning. Probably could have picked a better time for this fight.
Bad Cop: The "Thank You Fans" jerseys, while very well meaning, just felt like a leftover and a reminder of the last lockout. We know the lockout wasn't personal against the fans. And, while I have my doubts that the Jackets wanted anything to do with a lockout during the year it was set to host the All-Star Game, it rings hollow for the league as a whole to apologize for the lockout that they knew all along they were going to have. Lets just move along. We're back, lets just try to enjoy it before the next lockout gets here. Also, while it's not necessarily the fault of the team, it would be nice if something can be done about the cell service inside Nationwide Arena. When I arrived, my phone battery was 2/3 full. It died searching for signal before the first period started. For a team that has spent more effort improving it's social media prowess in the past few years than improving improving it's on ice prowess, I hope that something can be worked out with major providers to improve connectivity.
Good Cop: Those jerseys included, the team has made a heartfelt outreach to show how much they appreciate the fans sticking with them. The food vouchers where a nice touch, much like the rest of the league has done. You really do get the impression that this team truly regrets that the lockout had to happen. Unlike other certain owners (*cough*Jeremy Jacobs*cough*douchebag*), they really do see themselves as having a responsibility to the city to give it something to be proud of. Even the on ice losing never gives the Mike Brown, "I don't really care as long as I get my money" vibe. They have tried hard to win and just not found the way to do it yet. I think in hiring John Davidson, they have finally started that.
Overall, I was quite pleased with the game, and the first two games as a whole. We were out-skilled at times, but I expected that. We didn't win, but I expected that too. But the important thing is they never gave up. We worked just as hard or harder than the other team both nights. And I'm happy to say that now, I expected that.