I had to look it up. I knew it had happened once before, and not too terribly long ago. Turns out it was five years ago, almost to the week. On November 17, 19, and 20 of 2010, the Blue Jackets played their customary three-in-four-nights trip through California, and crushed all three teams to the combined tune of 12-6. That was when Scott Arniel's first season started out 14-6-0 (these were wins 10, 11, and 12). 20 games in and it was Arniel's high water mark.
I will issue a mea culpa: I wrote off last night's game, based purely on the lineup. It felt like the Jackets were either overthinking things, or going big just to go big and rake the muck a little bit. While that certainly happened--and while the second period offensive black hole was, well, offensive--it appears that maybe these guys might also know a thing or two about hockey.
On to tonight. I can't help but feel the feeling that any points tonight would be gravy. After all, going 4-2-0 on six road games in seven is pretty awesome in any right, and to ask for that fifth win might be greedy. But, we've earned the right to be greedy, watching the abominable tire fire that was the first eight games of the season. In fact, to channel my inner Gordon Gekko, greed in this case is good. We want the team to be greedy. We want them to complete this Cali Sweep. We want them to inch closer to the top of the hole they dug for themselves. They officially climbed out of the Eastern Conference (and thus, the league) basement. Keep going up, boys.
That the chance comes against an Anaheim team that is struggling almost as much--at least against expectations--as the Jackets have is a bit of a surprise. Ironically, this was the one game of the three that felt winnable before the trip began, and here we are hoping for a win.
John Tortorella talked post-game last night about working to establish an identity. Part of that identity needs to be that you can't just get up for the tough teams. When a team like the Ducks is scuffling and you've now shown you can play with some moxie, you have to take it to them. You have to pound them into submission. You have to take those two points early, and not let them go. Never let your opponent catch their breath. Much of the third period felt that way last night. That needs to carry over tonight.
For the Ducks, it looks like Ryan Getzlaf will be back in action tonight. He missed four games due to an emergency appendectomy. He will give the Ducks a lift, for sure. They have won two in a row, and so they, too, are trying to build momentum. It will be far from easy tonight for the Jackets.
For Columbus, Kerby Rychel was sent back to Lake Erie after the team came through last night's game with no injuries to speak of. Sergei Bobrovsky gets a well-earned night off, and Curtis McElhinney will get the start. We don't know much else at the moment, so I'm leaving the lineup the same for now. I suspect there may be a tweak or two, especially with Cody Goloubef. Can't see him sitting another night, especially on a back-to-back.
Columbus Blue Jackets
(4-10-0, 8 Points; 8th division, 15th conference)
|Boone Jenner||Brandon Dubinsky||Brandon Saad|
|Matt Calvert||Ryan Johansen||Cam Atkinson|
|Scott Hartnell||William Karlsson||Nick Foligno|
|Gregory Campbell||Alexander Wennberg||Jared Boll|
|Jack Johnson||David Savard|
|Ryan Murray||Fedor Tyutin|
|Kevin Connauton||Dalton Prout|
(3-7-2, 8 Points; 7th Division, 14th Conference)
|Mike Santorelli||Ryan Getzlaf||Corey Perry|
|Carl Hagelin||Ryan Kesler||Jakob Silfverberg|
|Andrew Cogliano||Shawn Horcoff||Chris Stewart|
|Patrick Maroon||Chris Wagner||Max Friberg|
|Hampus Lindholm||Kevin Bieksa|
|Cam Fowler||Josh Manson|
|Clayton Stoner||Sami Vatanen|