Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Detroit at CBJ II: It Starts With One...

"The CBJ was just waiting to win so they could make a statement. They are so forward-thinking. Stanley Cup Finals, I see it now."
-- Kate (@hockeydarling), San Jose, Calif.

Kate is a Sharks fan. In San Jose. I've never met her. However, like the hundreds of CBJ and NHL fans that I follow on Twitter, she watches hockey in what I've described previously as the World's Largest Living Room. As her Sharks have rid the Playoffs of the Detroit Red Wings the past two years, we both generally have nice things to say.

Anyway, I see this, and I inform her that I like her thinking. To this, she replies with my nomination for Quote of the Night:

"CBJ is that stoner in class that's really, really smart."

So... after I stop laughing heartily, I start trying to think of what that person looks like, so I tried to think of stoners in movies that fit the bill. Spiccoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High? Stoner... yeah. Smart... meh, not quite.

Slater from Dazed & Confused? Stoner, absolutely. Smart... well apart from the discussion of George Washington and aliens....

Realizing of course, that this has nothing to do with the CBJ win or even hockey... I settled on that really smart pothead from Road Trip. However, I found the stoner quote too hilarious not to share, so I asked her if I could share it, and she agreed.

So... thanks for a good laugh, Kate.

Now I wouldn't say the Blue Jackets by any means smoked the Red Wings (last stoner joke, I promise), but they sure as hell played a damn good hockey game against a damn good hockey team.

They didn't wait long to jump all over the opportunities they got, either. R.J. Umberger came out of the corner just 21 seconds in, found a rebound and put it past Ty Conklin for his first. Dude kinda looked like he was convulsing in that celebration, but man, emptying that kind of frustration had to feel good.

Even after a game-tying goal and a brief scare involving Steve Mason, the Blue Jackets didn't seem fazed. Then Ryan Johansen scored his first career NHL goal from behind the net and the place went crazy. From there, the Jackets did something they hadn't done yet this season: They played 60 minutes of hockey, and played well with the lead. They even added to it, as John Moore tallied his first career NHL goal from long range in the second period.

The special teams... solid. Sure, you always want more power play goals with seven tries, but the Jackets have now tallied with the man advantage in five straight games. The recently abysmal PK was perfect in three tries. And, hey, Derek MacKenzie's empty netter was even a shortie.

And then there was Steve Mason. It has often been discussed that he needed help in front of him, in order for him to get some confidence. He got it, and he did. He looked damn good... and we saw flashes of just what kind of hockey we can look forward to if the Jackets keep this up.

Which brings us to the unheralded man of the hour, James Wisniewski. Was he on the scoresheet? Nope. Was he a presence? Oh hell, yes. What did he get, 27-plus minutes of ice-time? Hockey may be a team sport, but Wiz proved to be just the kind of infusion this hockey team needed. The puck moved, and in the right direction much of the time.

Now, to put it all in perspective, the Jackets are now 1-7-1. This was just one win. The Jackets need 40-something more of these in the next 73 games to play in mid-April.

That said... this was a win against the Detroit Red Wings, which makes any night sweeter. More importantly, 15,000-plus fans in Nationwide -- whatever sweaters they wore -- and thousands more on TV saw a different hockey team from the one that had been getting mercilessly panned by outsiders for the first eight games.

They saw hope... and what we hope is the future of this team this season.

It's just one game, and it's just one win.

But it starts with one.

Follow @MartiniHockey on Twitter....

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