Thanks to injuries and the Ryan Johansen situation, the Jackets have more than the usual number of players eligible for roster spots. Tonight's game against the visiting Hurricanes was the last chance for some of the bubble players, and some of those players certainly rose to the occasion in a 6-3 victory.
The goaltending matchup featured Sergei Bobrovsky going the distance against Anton Khudobin.
The opening frame was played at a very brisk pace, which at this point in the preseason was expected. The 'Canes were without their top veteran players like the Staals and Jeff Skinner, but they were able to showcase their team speed and tenacious forechecking.
It only took about two minutes before we witnessed our first #Hartnelldown. He was a non-factor this evening, but he totally gets a pass. These games are about fighting for spots. His is nailed down, and he just needs to get the lungs at pace. There's no need to overdo it. I'm sure once the season starts, we'll see the veteran forward ramp up his intensity and patented hard work around the net.
The line of Matt Calvert, Cam Atkinson and Alexander Wennberg were terrific this evening. They kicked the scoring off a few minutes into the game, when after a hard shift in the offensive zone, Calvert found the puck on his stick between the hashmarks, wiring it past Khudobin.
1-0 Jackets: Matt Calvert - Cam Atkinson, Alexander Wennberg
The teams traded penalties late, but neither team could change the score.
The first few minutes of the period was all CBJ, with Artem Anisimov coming close to a goal early. He was another player who had a solid game, including going 11 for 15 in the faceoff circle. Playing on a line with Hartnell and Marko Dano, he showed instant chemistry with the latter. More on Dano later. Much more.
One good thing to see was the strong defensive play of Jack Johnson. He was a horse tonight, and his one noticeable misplay was immediatly recovered with a fine self-recovery. He played mostly with Dalton Prout, and the duo seems like it could work long term.
Midway through the period the Hurricanes started to dominate possession and were giving the Jackets fits. Save for an unsuccessful powerplay, the CBJ were on their heels.
Victor Rask, who had a hell of a game for Carolina, tied the game at the 10:55 mark. This is a kid who I was hoping the Jackets would pick up in 2011.
1-1: Victor Rask: Nathan Gerbe, John-Michael Liles
Carolina continued to be the better team, taking the lead less than two minutes later.
2-1 Hurricanes: Michal Jordan - Victor Rask
The Jackets salvaged the period late, with a David Savard point shot getting redirected by Calvert. The 'Canes protested the goal, saying it was tipped in with a high stick, but nonetheless the goal counted.
2-2: Matt Calvert - David Savard, Jack Johnson
The coaching staff were no doubt thankful for the intermission, so they can focus on getting the players refocused. Whatever was said to the players worked, as the Jackets came out flying. After a semi-scramble in front of Khudobin, Wennberg shoveled the puck over to a streaking Dano, who made no mistake.
3-2 Jackets: Marko Dano - Alexander Wennberg, Matt Calvert
The Jackets completely regained control of the game after that, with all four lines rolling and contributing. The fourth line of Corey Tropp, Michael Chaput and Jared Boll were noticeable for all of the right reasons. They were hitting, forechecking, and believe it or not, threatening offensively. They totally maximized their icetime.
You can go ahead and permanently etch Chaput's name above a dressing room stall. After playing so well since the beginning of camp, he turned in another top-notch performance tonight. In addition to the great work I mentioned above, he also gave the Jackets a cushion, scoring at the 5:51 mark.
4-2 Jackets: Michael Chaput - Dalton Prout, Corey Tropp
The only blip on the radar came midway through the period, when after a Calvert tripping call, the 'Canes were able to pot a powerplay goal. It came off the stick of who else? Victor Rask. Bob never saw the shot as he was screened by the arse of James Wisniewski.
4-3 Jackets: Victor Rask - Nathan Gerbe, Michal Jordan
Just twelve seconds later, the Jackets showed their mettle by regaining the two-goal lead. Gathering the puck along the right boards, Arty broke the ankles of Brody Sutter with a rapid course correction, skated toward the front of the net and wired the puck into the net.
5-3 Jackets: Artem Anisimov - Dalton Prout, Fedor Tyutin
For Prout, it was his second assist of the night. He played well, save for a bonhead penalty, bore out of frustration with a few minutes left in the period. The 'Canes came close to cutting the lead back to one goal, but they were denied two-fold. First, Bob was interfered with, tossing his head back a touch dramatically, but he got the call regardless. If he didn't get the call, he still made the save- and what a terrific one at that- as he was falling backward, he instinctively swung his glove hand behind his body, knocking the puck forward. Some may call it luck, I say you have to be good to be lucky.
Carolina pulled Khudobin with about a minute left. Remember I said there would be more about Dano? The kid was great all night. He was a whiz with the puck, scored the aforementioned goal, and even shone defensively. I'd say this game just gave the coaching staff perhaps their toughest roster decision- I say he makes the team. He's been quite impressive, and man, is he fun to watch! The icing on the cake for Dano tonight was firing the puck up-ice into the open net, giving him a pair of goals and maybe an NHL job.
6-3 Jackets: Marko Dano - Fedor Tyutin, David Savard
FINAL SCORE: 6-3 Jackets
- Two players fighting for spots - Chaput and Dano - were great tonight.
- Alex Wennberg is almost in a class of his own, and didn't look out of place at all with the Atkinverts. They will likely be Dubinsky's linemates when the season starts, but Wennberg showed that he belongs.
- It's good to see two helpers each from Tyutin, Savard and Prout
- No CBJ players were a "minus" tonight.
BOTTOM OF THE BARREL
- I'm not sure Simon Hjalmarsson did himself any favors tonight. He wasn't really noticeable playing on a line with Mark Letestu and Nick Foligno.
- When will Tim Erixon take the bull by the horns?
- Listen, I've been in a lot of rinks. Thanks to the jumbotron feed we were given tonight, I was able to see the fan reaction when folks saw themselves on the big screen. Talk about acting a fool! Don't even get me started on the horrors I witness during the Kiss Cam. Must be different rules in Columbus!
The Jackets conclude the preseason on Saturday against Nashville in Nationwide Arena.