Game 21 Recap: Uphill Battle

The ice must have been about 2 inches lower in the CBJ defensive zone in the third period tonight. The amount of penalties we took in the third could lead to a Zambroni driver nightmare. Hopefully they will be able to reshape the Sommet Center before their next home game. Skating from one end to the other end has never been more of a literal uphill climb.

Most coaches look at the calendar as chunks of 10 games segments our first segment we were 6-4 earning 12 points. We  followed that with 6-2-2 earning 14 points. At this pace we would eclipse the 100 point mark for the first time in franchise history. Tonight we began our next chunk of 10 with a point. Losing to Nashville sucks, but getting a point feels good tonight. The final score being 4-3.

I'm not sure how Nashville does it, but outside of a couple of blueline pieces they are to win games with a roster of half AHLers.

Steve Mason played a pretty solid game tonight. He made at least 3 dazzling game saving stops in the third. That's what we have come to expect from Mase. That's what he needs to do to become a top 5 goalie in the league. He hasn't been too strong on SO this year... he'll need to get some pointers from Garon the Shootout Wall. We wouldn't have got a point without Mase.

There were a ton of great scoring chances/ defensive breakdowns in this game. Trotz and Hitch must have wanted to strangle themselves. We have to tighten our D.

It is great to see R.J. Umberger get two tallies tonight. When this guy gets hot, he's the best player on the team. Getting consistent offense from the Umberger - Brassard combo has been a bright spot. Really good hand eye coordination from R.J. on both goals.

A booth review on the road that overturns a borderline call in our favor? That might be the first one in 3 or 4 years.

Martin Erat scored..... his second of the year. He has 5 points in 18 games... and Nashville signed him to a 7 year 4.5 million dollar deal last year. I don't wish injury on my opponents. I wish terrible cap management and terrible deals.

It may have been a product of a ton of penalties tonight, but Hejda played 25+ minutes in regulation (not including OT) tonight. I've seen his time climb up. Come playoffs he might be a half timer. Curiously Methot had the third most ice time among defenders. Hitch must hve been pretty happy with his play.

Our Powerplay is definitely improved from last year. By far the greatest blessing for this team. Getting another one tonight off the stick of Stralman felt like the type of goal we never got last year. It tied the game heading into the third and gave us a much needed boost.

The Powerplay during the last minute of regulation earns a special mention for maybe being the most exciting minute of Jackets hockey... ever. Too bad we didn't net one.

My major concern is the pattern of terrible penalty killing. Now I did not expect us to maintain the Hall of Fame pace that we had early in the year, but we seem to get burned once or twice every game. This has to stop to stay competitive. Special Teams play truly is the mark of a winning team. If you win on special teams, you often will win the game. I'm not sure what the issue is with the PK, but we have the players that should make a top unit. This is not a good combination when you take as many penalties as we did tonight. The unit did come up big in the 3rd, and I must acknowledge that.

Mancrush of the Night: I'm overlooking a couple bad plays tonight, but I really liked what I saw from Derick Brassard. I'm putting him here tonight. He had jump create some good offense all night.

Whipping Boy of the Night: Wade Belak has been put onto my permanent hit list. That shot on Boll was chicken and stupid. Boll made a clean hit, albeit slightly late. Belak looks at him and slashes between the legs from behind. That has to be a 5 game suspension at least.

Points in 9 of our last 10 games with a busy week ahead. Mon @NYR, Tues @ MON, Thurs @ Ottawa, Sat v. Calgary. Happy Thanksgiving, eh? Fire Away!

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