This isn’t a good hockey team right now. Things can change, but as of right now, they’re at best a middle of the road club.
That’s how I closed my recap earlier this week after the Detroit game, in which the Jackets allowed a couple of bad goals, came back to tie the game at 3-3 only to let at least a point slip through their fingers in the closing minutes of the contents.
Tonight, I’m eating my words, because the Columbus Blue Jackets looked like the team many thought they’d be prior to the start of the season; the offense finished chances, the defense stood on it’s head, Sergei Bobrovsky looked like a Vezina candidate and Columbus starts their California swing with a 4-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks.
Maybe it’s because the putridness of the Detroit game is still fresh in my mind, but the first period for the Jackets was one of the stronger ones we’ve seen in a while, if not all season. Columbus actually dictated play for the first half of the period, or there about, with no signs of east coast legs on them.
That remained the case throughout the whole first period, despite allowing the game’s opening goal after a comedy of errors that included getting sticks on the puck but was unable to settle and clear, leading to a Kevin Labanc goal from the faceoff circle to give San Jose a 1-0 lead.
Columbus responded well by not allowing the first goal to rattle them and set up a tic-tac-toe goal for Anthony Duclair, who caught Aaron Dell asleep at the wheel in the crease, to put the wrap around attempt home to tie the game at 1-1.
The Jackets opened the scoring in the second period when Duclair registered his second point of the game, throwing the puck in front and it going off of Seth Jones’ skate to give the Jackets a 2-1 lead.
Unbelievably, the gaol wasn’t reviewed.
Columbus continued their strong second period by dictating pace and it resulted in a near final minute goal, when Markus Nutivaara fed to Nick Foligno who finished from there to make for a 3-1 game.
The third period was a lot of chances, for both teams, with the Sharks seeing the lions share of the opportunities, which can be seen in the final shot discrepancy of 45-27, which showed the type of offensive games the two teams played: The Jackets drove to the net and tried to throw it home from close range while the Sharks shot from all over the offensive zone and crashed the net for third, fourth and fifth opportunities.
Josh Anderson put home an empty netter, shorthanded(!), and the Jackets fought off a 5-on-3 opportunity in the final 22 seconds to seal the deal.
We mentioned Bob was good; he stopped 44 of the 45 shots he faced and stood on his head for long stretches at a time. He is, officially, back.
It’d be great if this play continues, but it’s been a see-saw in terms of consistency with performance from game to game so while tonight was nice, let’s hope it’s just the start.
CBJ’s are back at it on Saturday from L.A.