The Columbus Blue Jackets entered last night’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes on the second night of a back-to-back. Unfortunately they played like it, looking a step slow for most of the game. Nevertheless, they held off a late push in regulation and stole a second point in a shootout.
I was there in in the lower bowl, shoot twice corner and so I wanted to go through and provide my observations of the various forward lines and defensive pairs:
Artemi Panarin/Pierre-Luc Dubois/Josh Anderson
Once again, this line was the best on the team. They are the perfect combination of speed, skill, and hard hitting. They always move in the direction of the net, as exemplified by their first shift, when they opened the scoring just 1:10 into the game:
It’s hard to believe PLD is just two months into his NHL career. He looks more and more confident and comfortable with each game. Clearly he has earned Torts’ trust, getting top minutes plus special teams and overtime shifts.
Also amazing is Anderson’s durability. He took a horrifying spill into the boards (on an uncalled trip, naturally) in the first period but didn’t miss any time and still tallied 19:25.
Bread, meanwhile, provided yet another shootout winner.
Bad news: they were on the ice for Carolina’s response goal in the first. More on that later.
Boone Jenner/Brandon Dubinsky/Nick Foligno
Hooray, Fligs is back at wing! This line started the game and it started with Foligno on a breakaway, just like the old days. Otherwise, this line had a forgettable night. They each had a CF% below 40. That being said, they didn’t LOOK that bad. I’m willing to give this line a few more games playing together. I think it can snap Foligno out of his funk.
This line was on ice for the game-tying goal halfway through the third period. Dubinsky was behind the net and his pass went nowhere near a teammate. Carolina took it the other way on a 3-on-2 against Jones and Werenski. The forwards could not get back in time to help out and Brock McGinn easily scored off the pass from Brett Pesce.
Sonny Milano/Alexander Wennberg/Cam Atkinson
Wennberg is back! Oh how we missed him. This line features three players who are looking to get their games back on track. I thought they were mostly invisible tonight, unfortunately, though they did dominate the Corsi battle.
Notice I said MOSTLY invisible. Less than 4 minutes into the second period, Wennberg received a pass at center ice and carried it into the offensive zone. He calmly looped around as Milano and Atkinson crashed the net. Wennberg delivered a perfect pass to a streaking Zach Werenski, who dragged the puck for just the right amount of time before snapping it top shelf for the go-ahead goal.
Like the previous line, I’m willing to give this one some time to get into a rhythm. There is too much talent on this combo to struggle for too long.
Tyler Motte/Lukas Sedlak/Oliver BJORKSTRAND
What a fourth line! I’m excited to see Sedsy playing with such skilled wings. Only 9 minutes for this line, which is disappointing.
Motte continues to impress me. Dude loves to crash the net, and he loves to hit. He was constantly throwing his body at the puck. It’s going to be tough to scratch him or send him back to Cleveland when Matt Calvert returns.
Zach Werenski/Seth Jones
28 minutes a piece of ice time. WOW.
Jack Johnson/David Savard
Their physical presence was necessary against an equally physical Carolina team.
Scott Harrington/Markus Nutivaara
Poor Nuti. He deserves better than this. Only 11 minutes of ice time for him despite being one of the better defensemen of the last week. But that’s 10 more minutes of ice time than Harrington deserved. Harrington was in the lineup in place of the injured Ryan Murray (death, taxes, & Ryan Murray injuries). He was victimized on the Carolina equalizer in the first period. Maybe victimized is the wrong word, because Harrington is partially responsible for this:
The play started when a Dubois pass got picked off (oh, hey, both Carolina goals started with a picked off pass from behind the net in the offensive zone. Coolcoolcool.) At first, Harrington does the right thing, splitting the distance between the attacking players. You even see him direct Anderson to cover Derek Ryan, which he does. But rather than cover the opposite side, Harrington hits the deck to cut off a shot, which leaves Noah Hanifin wide open on the back side, with a wide open net. Harrington should have been on Hanifin. Anderson had slowed down Ryan and even if Ryan got the shot off, Korpi was squared up to him and could have made the save more easily. There was no need for Harrington to leave his skates on this play.
Gabriel Carlsson was an emergency callup and it’s a damn shame that he wasn’t iced instead. I think he would make a far more natural partner for Nutivaara in Murray’s absence.
Korpi was the hero of the game, in my opinion. The spot start in Cleveland must have done him good because he was sharp tonight. There was a lot of traffic in front of him and he made some very nice saves. Especially in the last half of the game when the offense wasn’t doing much and therefore much of the action was on Korpi’s side of the ice. He came up big again in the final minutes of overtime, then again in calmly rejecting his countrymen Aho and Teravainen.
The team gets a breather tomorrow (they all looked completely gassed in overtime) then practices Thursday before hosting Anaheim on Friday.