Aftermath: Game No. 1
The nuts and bolts of tonight's game: Sergei Bobrovsky (BOBROVSKY) made 32 saves, a handful more in the shootout, Artem Anisimov and Nick Foligno scored in regulation, and the Blue Jackets hopped on their flight home with two points in hand.
Fun night at the rink, eh? Let's break it down. You can dance if you want to, but that "break it down" (in this context) means that I'm going to analyze the game. Your call, I'm cool with either.
Ah yes, the game. There was a lot to like from a Columbus perspective, in particular how the Blue Jackets countered after the Predators scored an early goal in the first period. There was no panic, no flustered-ness, no meltdown...just a collective "alright, we've got this" and commitment to their team game.
I've collected three main thoughts after this 3-2 shootout win to kick off the 2012-13 season:
1. Resolve: as Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said post-game, it would have been easy for his club to fold up the tents after the Martin Erat goal 39 seconds into the game and with Nashville riding opening night momentum, but they stuck to their guns. They got an opportunity on the power play later in the first period and cashed in, courtesy of Foligno's first goal in a Blue Jackets sweater. Ryan Ellis gave the Predators a late lead in the first, but Columbus bounced back and won the second period to pull even headed to the third.
2. The new guys: Foligno, Anisimov, Bobrovksy...all (and more) had a heavy hand in tonight's outcome. Foligno got it started with a sick re-direct of Tyutin's point shot on the power play, Anisimov was the game's best player with a pair of backhand dazzlers, and Bobrovsky did his thing between the pipes. I thought Adrian Aucoin had a solid game on the blue line with John Moore, and those two did some good work as the third pairing. Brandon Dubinsky didn't show up on the scoresheet, but he and Anisimov were great on the cycle and put pressure on the Predators' defense all night long.
3. Solid team defense: Richards said throughout training camp that he wanted his club to be tough defensively and be able to spend as little time as possible inside its own end. The Predators had their trademark "long shifts" in the Blue Jackets zone tonight, but far fewer than we've been accustomed to seeing over the years. Jack Johnson and James Wisniewski played a lot of minutes tonight (25:57 and 23:39 respectively), and though they didn't get as much power play time as they're used to, I found the pairing to be very efficient at even strength. Tyutin and Nikitin were their usual steady selves, and I found it interesting that Richards employed them as the No. 1 power play point men. The forwards tracked back well, the third man high in the zone was responsible and didn't cheat, and there was a consistent "five man unit" traveling up and down the ice for Columbus.
So, there you have it. A big opening night win for the Blue Jackets at Bridgestone Arena and undoubtedly a happy flight home on Blue Jackets Air. Check back tomorrow as we get set for opening night at Nationwide Arena...I suspect there will be some electricity in the building.