Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Dogging the 'Yotes. Again.

It wasn't always pretty, but if you can't enjoy the final result... well, there's something wrong with you.

Well, unless you're a Phoenix fan.

The Columbus Blue Jackets struck first, struck quickly, and struck hard Tuesday night against the Phoenix Coyotes. In the process, they took their third straight win -- for the first time this season, and for the first time in (quite literally) over a year. Now, we could harp on that fact for a while, but let's face it... this team has taken enough of a beatdown in the conventional and blog media. This fan base is treated with either pity or contempt lately . So, let's just sit back enjoy this.

After all, what's not to enjoy about seeing R.J. Umberger hit the score sheet just 31 seconds in? How about new Jacket Jack Johnson following up with another and put the Jackets up 2-0, not even four minutes in?

Screen cap of NHL.com
See? That's a happy dude right there.

We also saw Steve Mason seemingly having an out-of-body (or at least out of his mind) experience in net. All of a sudden, Steve Mason has won four of his last five decisions.

Even with the occasional defensive lapses, the lapses in judgment that led to penalties or just bad whistles in general... the Blue Jackets managed to hold on for the win.

Maybe there was help from the refs, too? Phoenix fans are pretty adamant about that, anyway. Sure... Derek Dorsett clearly trips over LaBarbera after the goalie dives for a puck, and is clearly trying to get up afterward. Now, he is probably having difficulty because he's on skates...

...and on ice...

...and his left leg is across LaBarbera's back, and LaBarbera is also trying to get up.

If anything... LaBarbera is interfering with Dorsett, right?

I'm (sort of) kidding... come on, the ref was standing right there. Maybe he was just as conflicted on whom he should whistle for interference...?

It's just a theory. The Jackets have been screwed by worse non-calls. It could just as easily be "just a hockey play."

Derek MacKenzie's goal went in. It counted. Works for me.

This team earned this win. They almost gave it away on a couple of occasions, but they earned it.

On top of that, the team seemed to look like it was on the same page most of the night. The Johnson-Wisniewski pairing is looking good. Be on-ice communication seems good. Guys were getting out there and making plays, hitting bodies and sticking up for teammates.

The Columbus Blue Jackets resembled a pretty damn good hockey team Tuesday night.

Obviously, a lot can happen between now and April, and certainly more can happen between now and next October. But I think Jackets fans can draw a lot of good things from the way this team played Tuesday, as well as the previous two games in Denver and Phoenix.

And while this apparent renaissance provides hope for the future... more importantly, it shows that the Jackets are focused, and playing in the moment. Hell, two quick opportunities on the penalty kill in the third? With the first coming with the Jackets down two men? These guys were playing hungry, baby.

However long ago the season was technically over, these guys are still playing hockey. And playing to win.

And I'm sure that even those who are sweating the Blue Jackets playing themselves out of the first overall draft pick (a.k.a., the "#FailForNail" crowd)... I'd venture about that even they are enjoying this immensely. Come on... they're still fans. And they're still loud.

And their team is still playing hard.

That is what matters.

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