The Blue Jackets are having a hard time winning.
I don't mean "winning," literally... although, that is also a problem. I mean more along the lines of winning the confidence of fans.
Opposing team scores first... it's "Ah, crap, here we go again."
Jackets score first... it's "Hey, cool! This is great... until the wheels fall off in the third."
Can you blame those with pessimistic attitudes? Meh, not really. This team has underperformed... there's really no way around that.
But whether the people taking seats at Nationwide feel the same pessimism or not... they're there. 14,000-plus, according to the score sheet. People are still going. Sure, many of them have season tickets, and they feel like they need to use them, or have somebody else use them. But there are plenty there who have the option of going or not.
I think part of that is loyalty. Sure, some are there because they like to watch hockey.. maybe some of them are even cheering for the other team. But let's stick with the Jackets fans for the time being.
Loyalty was rewarded Friday night. The 14,000-plus strong who packed into Nationwide to see the Jackets open up a four-game homestand -- after a road trip that was... well, rather unkind -- got to see a hell of a game. Marquee players out with injuries? Minor-league callups filling out the lines? No problem.
The Coyotes scored first. Big deal. Less than four minutes later. Tomas Kubalik answered with his first career NHL goal to tie it up. Sweet goal, too on a nice feed from Aaron Johnson. Than Rick Nash put the Jackets up with a wrister from the slot, through traffic, barely a minute and a half later. The scoring continued as call-up Ryan Russell picked up an early goal in the second period... also his first career NHL goal.
It's times like these that some of the CBJ faithful anticipate trouble, and although the Coyotes got a goal midway through the period to close the gap to one, the Jackets kept their game together with solid defense, and in the closing minutes of the period, Derick Brassard made his way to the slot, found a spot and shot the puck past Jason LaBarbera for the eventual game winner. He also blocked a shot late in the game.
Brass has had two goals and two assists in the last four games, now. Dude was one of the front-page photos on NHL.com after Friday's games, too. It's nice to see what more ice time will do for a kid's confidence.
Some damn fine goaltending from Curtis Sanford didn't hurt, either.
While this may be only one game, you can't dispute that this was an opportunity to get some momentum going on home ice. They'll need all the momentum they can get going into tonight's game against Pacific leader San Jose. However, if they play with the same fire we saw Friday... hey, they might just impress a few people.
Maybe another few thousand...?
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