The Jackets took to the ice looking for their first win at home this season, sitting with an 0-5-0 record in Nationwide Arena prior to puck drop. The Jackets started Sergei Bobrovsky in net, while the Canucks countered with Jacob Markstrom, who was making his first start of the season.
The game got off to a slow, plodding start, which wasn't helped by the fact I was forced to watch the atrocious Sportsnet Pacific broadcast. I've complained about Rimer and his mistakes before, but man, it's tough sledding sitting through those guys.
There was a bit of ref-getting-smoked action early in the game. Brandon Dubinsky attempted to finish his check on Henrik Sedin, but the latter shifted out of the way at the last second, revealing a wide-eyed linesman behind him, but it was too late as Dubi had already pulled the trigger. The liney was none the worse for wear, requiring nothing more than a few moments to regain his lost wind and wits after Dubi collided with him.
Brandon Saad. Let's chat about him for a second. Early in the first, he had a beauty rush up the wing, leading to a scoring chance, and another on the rebound. We need to see more of that from him. Not that we want him to try to do it all himself, but we need to see more of his creativity- he has it in spades. and though I hate to reference his cap hit, he's being paid as an elite forward, and we need to see some more of the elite stuff. Powerplay goals are nice, but...
Random thought - the idea of trading Cam Atkinson frightens me. I just know he'll score 30-35 goals for his new team. Oh, and he's about the only guy with any speed up front. The Jackets are not anything close to a speedy team, but it's great to see Cam shot out of a Cannon (sorry) when he crosses centre ice.
Not a typo. Centre. Centre. Centre. My target audience are overwhelmingly American. This "centre" was a treat to my Canadian self. Moving on.
With 6:28 left in the first period, the Canucks were called for !!!!TOO MUCH MAN!!! ENTIRELY TOO MUCH MAN!!! and the Jackets subsequently went on the powerplay. It took just seven seconds for the home team to open the scoring. After winning the faceoff, Ryan Johansen got the puck back near the right circle, and fed it to Boone Jenner down on the goal line. Boone then backhanded a pass to Scott Hartnell in front of the net, and though Hartnell's shot was stopped, Markstrom was unable to stop Boone's rebound shot.
Shortly after, some scrummage.
Interjection - I've played rugby for many of my teenage / young adult years. I play hooker. So many times after the scrum is engaged, nothing but stars and I come-to on the field a second or two after the scrum is over. You have to come together *just right* otherwise...CRUNCH. Time for a Don Cherry moment - for those kids out there looking to play some hooker - learn some trickery with lineout play calls, and grow a beard. Use that fur to scratch the bajesus out of the opposing hooker and prop. If it's their scrum, focus on taking a few layers of skin off their face with your beard. Don't worry about the ball. Your flankers will get it back for you.
So the result of the scrum in the hockey game tonight was a goalie interference call on Brandon Sutter, a cross checking call on Cody Goloubef (who earned the call with a strike in defense of Bob), and a roughing call on Johansen. Joey gave Sutter a shot after he got to his feet after the Goloubef check. Joey attempting to be a tough guy? Who knows. 4-on-3 powerplay for Vancouver. Alexander Wennberg with the best chance for either team, shorthanded.
When the teams returned to five-on-five, the Jackets turned the game into a shooting gallery. Shot, after shot, after shot on Markstrom. The big goalie couldn't be beaten however, and naturally, the puck then went the other way despite the chaos for Vancouver in their end. Saad ended up with the puck in his end, and carried it back to regroup. He ended up getting his pocket picked by Daniel Sedin, who promptly fed Jannik Hansen, who was alone in front of the net. Hansen's shot would tie the game.
With less than three minutes left in the opening period, Ryan Murray and Hartnell took turns booting the puck in the corner to Bob's right. Hansen retrieved it, and returned the favor to Daniel with a backhand pass down low. Sedin was again left all alone in front of Bob. The Jackets absolutely need to defend the net-front.
With about a second left in a Vancouver powerplay, earned when Jack Johnson stupidly tossed former Jacket Adam Cracknell into the boards after a scoring chance, the Jackets got a powerplay of their own. Johnson made up for his dumb penalty by finishing a cross-crease pass from Jenner for the pee-pee-jee. The game was tied going into the first intermission,
The second period was not as eventful as the first, but it was one of the best periods we've seen from this team all season. They pumped 22 shots on Markstrom, but were unable to beat him. He was great, full credit given.
Bob was great in his own right. He had a big save early in the second period, and would go on to keep the score tied throughout the middle period.
Saad had another nice rush, stopped by Markstrom, with Gregory Campbell following up with a pair of rebound chances. Campbell is playing with more offensive confidence lately.
It was all-CBJ in the second, but Markstrom was great. The biggest takeaway from my optics however was the lethargic play of Johansen. Everything he did looked like it was happening in slow-motion. It was excruciating at times to watch him battle for pucks. I don't know what's going on. Sure, he had two helpers tonight. Whatever. This player is not the same young man we were so excited about last season. Where's the drive? Where's the creativity? For us die-hards, it's fucking heart-breaking. Whatever's getting you Joey, please, get it sorted out. If it's injury or illness, get it fixed. If you are having a hard time finding reason to be the best, just know that you'll be leaving millions on the table, you'll prevent yourself from cementing a legacy as an elite player, and you'll get a bad reputation. Work hard for ten more years. Great hockey players don't have to work until the age of 65 like the rest of us. Crush it until your 35-40 and then retire a man who has everything. Sure, there's some hyperbole in what I'm saying, but I mean it. You have something special in you. Show us.
With the score tied at two goals apiece, the Jackets were dominant to start the third period. Nick Foligno came close to potentially giving his the team the lead when Markstrom made a whoopsie clear, but the goalie was able to recover enough to get a piece of the puck with his stick when Foligno shot at the open net.
The fourth line of Campbell, Alexander Wennberg and Jared Boll was really making things happen whenever they were on the ice. It was great to see. Wennberg's vision is wasted on that line, but the trio worked their asses off. Even Boll looked like a contributor. Long term extension is not in his future, but in the present he was doing good things.
What to do with Wennberg? He's a centerman in the NHL. No doubt about it. So are Dubinsky, Johansen and Torts-darling Karlsson. I can't think of a guy in the current top-nine who would move down to allow Wennberg to move up. I'm sure the coaches and management are curious about what his future holds.
Ok. Here's where the story goes rollercoaster.
First, the good: the Jackets scored to take the lead midway through the third. It was a beauty shorthanded goal by Cam Atkinson. It came about when David Savard cleared the puck, and Alexander Edler attempted to bat it down with his stick. All that did was slow it down enough for Cam to gather it, and go forehand-backhand-forehand for the goal.
Now, the bad news. At 10:05 of the third, the Canucks tied the game. Vancouver dumped the puck in-deep, where it took a Canucks bounce to Hansen, who sent a cross-crease pass to Henrik Sedin on the doorstep. Tie game.
With about five minutes left, Hansen was at it again, sending the puck and his fourth point of the night to Sutter, who turned on the jets to blow by Ryan Murray who beat Bob to give the Canucks the lead.
With Bob pulled, Henrik fired the puck into the empty net to seal the victory.
FINAL SCORE: 5-3 Canucks.
1 - for the advanced stats for this game, check out War on Ice.
2 - the Jackets had the Canucks beat with a half-period to go. Markstrom was excellent, but the Jacket simply must learn to close out games.
3 - Ryan Murray was not good last night. At all.
4 - the Jackets remain winless at home.
5 - The team is back in action on Friday in Pittsburgh.