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BONUS RECAP: Knights Lull Jackets in, Finish Them Off Before They Realize

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The Blue Jackets and Knights were matched evenly. Until they weren’t and Vegas went in for the kill.

NHL: Vegas Golden Knights at Columbus Blue Jackets Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

It was a match of wits, not speed or strength, between Columbus and Vegas on Monday night as the two squads competed in the public arena of the digital age in a rousing 17-move game of Connect Four on social media.

The Blue Jackets opened the match. They are, fittingly, blue.

Vegas countered with red, moving to the immediate right of the jackets, and the two were off. Vegas attempted to establish a horizontal floor game, while Columbus opted for the diagonal, vertical route.

At this point, each team began to counter one another - VGK began building on top of Columbus’ fourth-row while the Jackets settled for going wholly horizontal.

Then, the end game was in sight. It’s the kind of end game where you’re hoping your opponent didn’t see it, but you know they know what you’re trying to go for. It’s technically a winning scenario, but it’s still a couple of moves ahead.

Vegas was forced into no other option - they had to abandon their foundation-laying and stop the Jackets from winning on the second row.

If you’re the Blue Jackets, you have a couple of options - you can’t go to 5/3 (fifth row, three up), because that’ll ensure a Vegas win. But, in the current setup, there’s nothing to immediately do to build for long-term sustainability. You could argue 6/3, but that’s an easy counter as well.

So, the Jackets opt for the long game, trying to build in the second level of the board. Vegas gave the Jackets and inch, and they just continued to build.

It was here that the first nail was placed in the Jackets’ coffin. With Vegans going 4/4, they set up two scenarios; the Jackets cutting off the lose-lose situation of the horizontal game on the third level or cutting off the diagonal game up top.

They opted for the latter.

Vegas countered with the winning placement, putting the Jackets in a lose-lose.

You go 8/3, Vegas can win on the left side. You go 3/3, Vegas wins on the right.

The Jackets picked their poison, sealing the deal for a Vegas win.

So, where did the game turn? What was the move that the Jackets should have opted for?

The right move to ensure the game didn’t end in a loss comes all the way back on the Jackets’ eighth move of the match. Instead of following Vegas’ lead and building up, they should have cut the horizontal point of attack that ended up being their downfall.

While the two played a pretty tight game (no move was made with a space in between any other pieces), this would have been the right move - for the time - for the Jackets. If Vegas stops the Jackets’ upward mobility (which would have definitely happened), and it would have allowed the Jackets to smartly open up the board a bit.

While the loss is hard to swallow, it was brilliant social mediaing, on both sides, and I can’t wait for the two to do it again.