The Columbus Blue Jackets traveled to sunny Florida to take on the Florida Panthers and another former Blue Jacket – best player in the history of the franchise Sergei Bobrovsky. Not too big a deal, eh? Unfortunately, the Jackets offense is also not too big a deal. There was a lot of pregame chatter from the CBJ talking heads about ‘chasing Bob’ and I’m not sure what offense they expected to see from Columbus.
Bobrovsky lost his shutout bid late in the game, but it didn’t matter – the Panthers were already up three. Elvis Merzlikins played well – made several huge saves – and it’s too bad that it won’t show up like that in the stats. The Panthers defeat the Blue Jackets 4-1. Here are the details:
Well, let’s just get settled into the sofa and grab a dri---What the heck was that!? 18 seconds into the game, a Keith Yandle shot from the blue line was deflected twice and got through Elvis. No fault to Elvis, heck, no fault to any Jacket really. The cards, or sticks, aligned just right and the Panthers had an early 1-0 lead.
Bobrovsky settled quickly into his own crease and turned aside some decent CBJ chances. Sonny Milano started a nice sequence but it was ended by a Bob save on a Pierre-Luc Dubois shot. Shortly thereafter, PLD had a semi-breakaway that was also stopped by Bob.
Eric Robinson was called for a pretty pointless penalty in the neutral zone and the PK got to work. Two things about the PK – they completely wrecked the Florida power play and Alexandre Texier got some time on the unit. With just a few seconds left in the PK, Ryan Murray drew his own penalty and the Jackets earned some power play time. Nothing doing, though.
Late in the 1st, Nick Foligno foughtJosh Brown for reasons. Jody Shelley claimed it was for leadership, or to fire himself up. How much momentum does one create when the fight is followed by 5 minutes in the box?
Bob Saves in the 1st – 9 for 9
Elvis Saves in the 1st – 2 for 3
Early in the period, Texier was whistled for holding but the Panthers PP is again completely bamboozled by the CBJ PK. Elvis did have to make a couple of saves, though. Shortly after the PP ended, Elvis makes a great save with his hip. When he dips, you dip, we dip.
Dubois has really upped his pest game lately and he attracted attention in the 2nd period, but nothing came of it.
Elvis was positionally sound all game and reacted quickly throughout. He made a beauty of a glove save on Mike Hoffman. Jody says Hoffman didn’t get all of it… maybe, but it was purty.
Oliver Bjorkstrand, as has been the case all season, flew around the ice all game and had a great chance on Bobrovsky, who was on the case and shut the door.
With almost 11 minutes left in the 2nd, Florida maintained some offensive possession and passed the puck around the zone. The last pass was across the ‘royal road’, as some call it, to a streaking Josh Brown who put it past Elvis. Nick Foligno was caught puck watching and didn’t react to Brown skating behind him.
PLD continued to be a pest and was finally called for it – a roughing penalty late in the second. This led to Vladislav Gavrikov’s astounding penalty kill shift. Three times, Hoffman wound up a slapshot. Three times, Gavrikov blocked it – off his leg, off his arm, and off his ankle. The last two really hurt the man and he still stood in there. John Tortorella needs to send #44 a nice Christmas card.
Cam Atkinson made an appearance with a shorthanded breakaway that Bob nonchalantly saved.
The period ends with Seth Jones drawing a slashing penalty.
Bob Saves in the 2nd: 15 for 15
Elvis Saves in the 2nd: 14 for 15
Emil Bemstrom did not come out of the locker after the 2nd period and was later ruled out for the rest of the game. He took a couple of shots from Brian Boyle late in the 2nd and they did some damage.
The Jackets started with a power play but nothing came of it – Bjorkstrand was strong throughout, but nothing really threatened Bobrovsky.
Later on, Dean Kukan was called for a tripping penalty without actually tripping anyone. In order for us to not complain about a lot of undeserved penalty kill time, the Panthers went ahead and scored almost right away. Seth Jones was tying up a Panther in front of the net only to have a shot deflect off his leg and into the net. That’s three goals behind Elvis, none of which could remotely be called his fault. It didn’t seem to get him down, he was great throughout the game.
Just past the halfway mark of the period, the hockey gods decided to reward Gavrikov’s sterling defensive efforts. Gavrikov took a shot from the point that Bob was unable to see due to Josh Anderson’s largeness. The goal looked like this:
The celebration looked like this:
That’s an appropriate way to rub it in when you beat a friend in some endeavor.
However, Bob would have the last laugh. A late CBJ PP went for naught and the Panthers put up the ENG with 2:26 left in the game. Elvis still had to make one more beauty of a save before the game ended. And end it did with Florida leading 4-1, so they won the game by that score.
Bob Saves in the 3rd: 7 for 8
Elvis Saves in the 3rd: 7 for 8
- That 5v5 goal last game out didn’t do much for Cam. He was mostly invisible except for the SH chance that Bob turned aside. Notable is that Torts still kept him off the powerplay. I understand keeping Milano in there, but am surprised he’d rather have Kukan as a 2nd defender on one unit over Cam. Guess he really needs to earn his spot back.
- Most people weren’t watching this game. They will see Elvis with a 23 for 26 night and a .885 save percentage. That is not, at all, indicative of his play. He was sharp throughout, well positioned, reactive and proactive. He was good. Maybe he can get a home game start?
- The play from the forwards has been a little Groundhog Day-ish. Bjorkstrand, Milano, Jenner among the good. Cam and Fligs among the not so good. A lot of neutral in between. Anderson seems to be twitching, if he’s not fully awake. That’s good.
- Texier was back at center.
- Is the MacLean Magic wearing out!?
- MrSwift was at the game. This is probably his fault. He’s the worst.