Aftermath No. 5: Chicago

Saturday, 01.26.2013 / 10:12 PM
By Rob Mixer - BlueJackets.com / CBJ Today


Alright, let's put the finishing touches on this puppy.

The Blue Jackets and Blackhawks played a game tonight that started dull, hit a crescendo with a controversial disallowed goal in the second period, and culminated in a thrilling last-minute push by the home side. In the end, Chicago skated away with its fifth straight win to open this abbreviated NHL season, and the Blue Jackets are now winless in their last four.

Let's not dwell on the negatives, though, especially considering the Blue Jackets put together a solid team game against one of the most talented clubs in the business. They did pretty much everything they needed to get the two points, but the final consequences will be debated for quite a while (just not in this blog).

Steve Mason made 21 saves and was very good, including a pair of big-time glove stops on Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp that happened to come at pivotal junctures of the game. The ice tilted back and forth on a number of occasions and neither team really grabbed momentum, and it made for an entertaining third period with Chicago hanging on to a one-goal lead.

Was this the Blue Jackets' best performance of the season? I'd lean that way, but the collective gusto they showed in the latter stages against Nashville was also impressive. They checked Chicago's top players hard, make them work for their space and played a physical brand of hockey that didn't put a smile on the visitors' faces. That's what you want from this team.

Here are my thoughts from tonight's 3-2 final at Nationwide:

1. Ryan Johansen steps up: This has been bubbling for a few games, but the 20-year-old center was a forceful player tonight. He played 15:57 in the game, won eight of 14 face-offs (57 percent) and matched a career high with five shots on goal -- a few of which were in prime scoring areas. With Mason on the bench and the Blue Jackets seeking the tying goal, Todd Richards called on Johansen to win the pivotal face-off in the Blackhawks' end. That's a huge show of confidence and a deserving reward for the youngster, who appears to be coming into his own.

2. Defensively stout: Entering tonight's game, the Blue Jackets had allowed nearly 40 shots per game and it was putting a ton of pressure on the six defensemen, but that changed tonight. They moved the puck quickly and efficiently out of danger and held the high-powered Blackhawks to just 24 shots on net, and most were from the point or the perimeter. Chicago's best chances came off the rush or turnovers by the Blue Jackets (that won't please the coaching staff, however). There wasn't much room to navigate in the neutral zone, and the Blackhawks found it tough sledding to get anything generated on the counterattack. Credit goes to the Blue Jackets forwards and defense for communicating and maintaining a tight gap.

3. 60 minute effort: Richards has been talking about this since the beginning of the season, and the Blue Jackets came awfully close to a complete game tonight (and you could argue they did). They got the Blackhawks on their heels early in the first period, scored the opening goal thanks to some hard work in front of the Chicago net, and significantly cut down on their giveaways in crucial areas. Their breakout was strong, the forwards tracked well to eliminate time and space for the Blackhawks' skill guys, and when they went back for pucks, the transition was (for the most part) fluid. This was the type of effort you see when everyone is on the same page, and if they can take this as a building block, it's a good sign.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
R. Johansen 82 33 30 3 63
J. Wisniewski 75 7 44 0 51
B. Dubinsky 76 16 34 5 50
C. Atkinson 79 21 19 -4 40
A. Anisimov 81 22 17 -2 39
N. Foligno 70 18 21 5 39
R. Umberger 74 18 16 -3 34
M. Letestu 82 12 22 1 34
J. Johnson 82 5 28 -7 33
B. Jenner 72 16 13 6 29
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Bobrovsky 32 20 5 .923 2.38
C. McElhinney 10 11 1 .909 2.70
 
Columbusbluejackets.com is the official Web site of the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Columbus Blue Jackets and columbusbluejackets.com are trademarks of The Columbus Blue Jackets Hockey Club.  NHL and the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup are registered trademarks and the NHL Shield and NHL Conference logos are trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P.  Copyright © 2009 Columbus Blue Jackets Hockey Club and the National Hockey League.  All Rights Reserved. View the Columbus Blue Jackets Privacy Policy AdChoices NHL.com Terms of Service
Please use the feedback form if you have any recommendations or comments.