The desert dogs were not friendly to the Jackets last year. We were left starving for points on four different occasions. There were a couple games we outplayed them, but the shut us out of the win column. We handled the home opener in style and barely heard the standing room only crowd after the first 3 minutes of the game. We didn't give them much to cheer about... we didn't give them much to fear either. You kind of almost feel for the fans he did come out tonight. They've been through so much, but went home completely empty handed.
A 2-0 shutout in Mathieu Garon's debut, is the perfect way to end the road trip. He's the happiest about this? Probably Steve Mason since he won't have to play through another month-long disease this year. 4 points on a west coast roadie and a 3-1 record qualifies as a good start to the year. Especially since we have only played about 5 periods of good hockey this year.
I'd say that the Yotes outplayed us this game although they never really threatened us. Outside of one shorthanded rush and a Doan deflection, there wasn't much left for them. They had their chances. 2 5 on 3's and a full 4 minute PP. This did stiffle our offense tonight.
Our first goal of the game was the product of a typical Jan Hejda play. A neutral zone poke check that he some how got to Brassard's stick. A couple tic-tac-toes between Nash-Brass-Juice and the puck found the net.
I'm again happy with the PP. Although we haven't seen much success (or in this game many powerplays) we were able to get the puck set up in the zone. It took us 9 years, but we've figured out how to do it. Although we haven't seen the dividends of this yet- get ready.
The bright spot of the year so far has definitely been the play of our third line. They are consistently creating offensive pressure and quickly diffuse the other team's offense. Dorsett didn't look out of place on the line. I actually liked' him there. He might be on that line for the next 10 years.
With the revolving third line door the credit most go to Hitch's new favorite Sammy Pahlsson. He played a great game. A great steady game. You can tell why his stat line is worth 3 million dollars. His line consistently gets the puck deep and cycles. He might not score, but the other team cannot score for their own zone. His penalty killer was superb tonight.
Voracek had one real good shift tonight, but otherwise looked slow for me. I know he has more deceptive speed, like 61, but he didn't seem to have the extra gear tonight. It was nice to see him on the ice with a minute left (even though he left his point man sneak past him more than once tonight). It sucks to see Filatov's ice time decreasing, I'm not sure I even saw him get PP time on our man advantages. Hopefully at home when we can dictate the matchups we'll see him more.
Mancrush of the Night: Garon and the PK. Garon played a great game. A great highlight save on the SH rush. He deserves the nod here, but I need to share that with the PK unit. These guys got us the points tonight. Nash, Pahlsson, Murray, Methot, Tyutin and Vermette all stood out to me on the kill. Great play overall. We should have one of the top units in the league.
Whipping Boy: RJ Umberger. I know RJ wouldn't mind me saying he had a bad game. He'd say much worse about it than I will. He struggled mentally and physically tonight. He missed passes, he lost board battles, he couldn't get dumps in, he gaveaway the puck. This is about the opposite of RJ Umberger hockey. It's a blip on the radar. Move on. His worst game as a Jacket and he scored a goal.
2 out of 3 on a West Coast Roadtrip by playing C- hockey... Klesla on pace for 82 points... Winning 3 different home openers in one year... Steve Mason with a night off... who are these guys? Hit the comments. Any predictions for Calgary on Tuesday. They might be the best team in the league; it will be a test.