Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Things Are Looking Up(shall) For Columbus

Raffi Torres....

Why did it have to be Raffi-freakin'-Torres?

Torres ended an eight-round shootout -- and a 2-1 win for the Vancouver Canucks -- in a game that saw the Columbus Blue Jackets face down the Western Conference's top team and still walk out with a point.

The loss leaves the Blue Jackets five points behind Los Angeles for the eighth Playoff spot, with 20 games remaining.

Frankly, that was the only thing that spoiled what was an crazy debut by Scottie Upshall.

Simply put... Scottie Upshall played his ass off for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Then, with Upshall in the box for a high-sticking double-minor... the Blue Jackets returned the favor, killing off both minors.

Then Upshall did it again, blocking a shot by Ryan Kesler (at least I think it was Kesler) that had a good chance of going in -- in the closing seconds to send the game into OT.

He didn't stop there either. He managed another shot, and -- if not for the tenacious Canucks defense and a bouncing puck -- could have even won it on a streaking chance a couple minutes into the extra period.

Scottie Upshall is already looking like a steal for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Seriously. It seemed like he was everywhere... on both ends of the ice, but especially in the offensive zone. The shot tracker showed six shots by Upshall... but it could have been double that, the way he factored into a lot of that action on Vancouver's end.

But that goal... what the hell. That looked too fast for a wrist shot. After taking the chip from Derek Dorsett, it looked like he settled the puck and shot it in a half-second. Obviously Roberto Luongo couldn't see it.  I know I sure as hell didn't.

Vancouver certainly did a job on the Jackets' hot-of-late power play. They certainly showed why the Canucks had the third-best power play going in, not to mention the top spot in the Western Conference.

The loss sucks, yes. however, a team can do a hell of a lot worse against a team in Vancouver's spot. The Jackets still have a game or two in hand against the teams immediately above them, which can be very useful as long as they capitalize on it. This loss can be a very good thing to build on.

Wrandom Wristers
  • Upshall didn't just have a good game for himself, he raised the game for other guys on the ice. Linemate Derek Dorsett had five shots on goal.
  • Rostislav Klesla -- returning to the ice for the first time in over a month after a knee injury and the trade that brought Upshall and Sami Lepisto to Columbus -- scored a goal in his debut in a Coyotes uniform.
  • Dallas and Calgary got wins to distance themselves from the contenders floating near the line. Nashville lost in a shootout, and is just a point behind the three-way tie at spots 6 though 8.

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