Friday, vs. Chicago: The Jackets got off to a slow start (sound familiar?) and allowed Chicago to jump to a 2-0 lead in the first, but goals by Maksim Mayorov (the first of his NHL career) and Derick Brassard (his 16th) had the game tied at 2 after two periods. Samuel Pahlsson gave them the go-ahead goal, but wouldn’t you know - a minute and a half later, Bryan Bickell tied it back at three. The game would go to a shootout and in true Columbus Blue Jackets fashion, they would go 0/3. Viktor Stalberg beat Garon to seal the victory. Money quote, by head coach Scott Arniel (source): ”We’ve made a decision as a league that we’re going to entertain at the end of the night and we’re not going to go home with a tie game. We’ll work on the shootout part… but we don’t back off in overtime. These guys learn how to play in pressure packed situations. It’s unfortunate we’ve lost so many shootout games, but we’ve done a great job of learning how to play under pressure.” Are you sure about that, Coach? I’m a supporter of Arniel for the most part, but I don’t think he knows his team any better than we do.
Friday, part two: With Steve Mason sidelined with some sort of undisclosed injury (bruised ego? mono? the clap? softgoalsandnodefenseitis?), David LeNeveu was brought up from Springfield (the Falcons, not the Indians, because this is not 1994). In 41GP with SPR, LeNeveu was 16-20-2 with a 2.97/0.896. His prior NHL experience, with Phoenix, is limited to 21 games. We won’t share those stats, because you don’t want to know.
Also on Friday, forward Derek MacKenzie was nominated for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy. He was the Blue Jackets’ nominee for the award. The Masterton Trophy is awarded, “under the trusteeship of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association and is given to the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey. The winner is selected in a poll of all chapters of the PHWA at the end of the regular season.” MacKenzie is a veteran of 124 NHL games – half of which have come this season in his first full NHL campaign – and 550 games at the AHL level, where he spent parts of nine seasons before going full-time. MacKenzie is a small, defensive forward without a whole lot of talent, but what he lacks there he compensates for in his grit. He’s contributed 9 goals this season playing in a variety of situations.
Jan Hejda was suspended two games for an elbow to the head of Blackhawks’ Marcus Kruger. It was clearly unintentional but deserved, a consequence of the league’s wanting to cut back on careless hits to the head. Hejda is the first Blue Jacket suspended since Jared Boll was assessed a one-gamer in October of 2008 for a late instigator penalty.
Blue Sunday: Apparently the Blue Jackets were not privy to their own schedule and forgot to show up to Sunday’s matchup with St. Louis. They were a listless, sloppy, passive bunch in a 6-1 loss. RJ Umberger, playing in his 243rd consecutive game as a Blue Jacket, got the only goal (a power play one, at that). He set a new career high in points (56) and is one off his previous record of 26 goals. Jaroslav Halak turned away the other 23 shots he faced – most of which really were not great ones. Garon was replaced by LeNeveu in the third period with the score already 4-1. Stralman, Upshall, and Russell were each -3, and the only highlights of the night were a long battle between Derek Dorsett and the much-heavier Ryan Reaves, and a not-so-spirited battle of the under-six-feet club between Kris Russell and Vladimir Sobotka. It’s okay to laugh, really.