A friend of mine remarked during last night’s game that the Columbus Blue Jackets main rival appears to be the New York Rangers, and not the Pittsburgh Penguins. I have to agree with that statement, and it appears that personnel and trade history trumps geography in the Metropolitan Division. With both the Blue Jackets and Rangers swapping so many roster spots last season, the two teams are relatively even, and that makes for exciting games and a great rivalry.
The start to last night’s game could not have gone any better for Columbus. I would not have been surprised if the Jackets came out a little nervous, as this was a momentous road game for many of the players in the starting lineup.
Matt Calvert calmed any existing nerves 38 seconds into the game when he scored off a Cam Atkinson feed. It put the Jackets ahead by one almost immediately, and the New York boo birds started singing their song to Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist. 8 minutes later, former Ranger, Artem Anisimov scored on a 3 on 1 rush off a delayed penalty. Two minutes after that, R.J. Umberger fed the puck towards the slot and it took a bounce off David Savard and into the Rangers net. That would be the last goal given up by Lundqvist, as he was given the hook after only making 10 saves on 13 shots. The move to bring in Talbot seemed to wake the Rangers up, and with six minutes left in the period, Dominic Moore backhanded in the rebound off a Brad Richards slap shot.
At the start of the second, Columbus made a goalie change as well, not due to poor play, but a lower body injury to Curtis McElhinney. Mike McKenna would have to step up and finish off the game for the Jackets. Talbot and McKenna kept both teams off the scoreboard in the second and the Jackets went to the third leading 3-1. Columbus shut down the Rangers for the first half of the third period, but Dan Girardi was able to beat McKenna glove side to pull New York within one. After several tense minutes and Rangers chances to even it up, Ryan Johansen put the game away for Columbus after breaking away from the Rangers defense and beating Talbot, making it 4-2 with less than 90 seconds remaining.
Despite losing McElhinney, Columbus rallied in front of McKenna and gave him the support he needed in the 2nd. The Jackets did allow the Rangers to creep back into the game, but I believe a lot of that had to do with the fact that the Rangers are a good hockey team. They allowed Columbus to run away with the score in the first period, and that was ultimately their undoing. I would have like to see Columbus keep a stronger lead, but some adversity can be good for them and keep them playing for the full 60 minutes.
Brandon Dubinsky needs to learn to control his emotions during games. He was given a game misconduct on Monday for a stick chop during the Penguins game and then last night took back to back high sticking penalties during the 2nd period. While the Rangers only managed two shots on goal on both power plays, dumb penalties allow teams to regain momentum. I like the energy and raw emotion Dubinsky brings and I understand last night had to be huge for him, but he needs to control and channel his emotions.
Mike McKenna has already been named the starter for tomorrow night again the St. Louis Blues. Coach Todd Richards did remark today that Curtis McElhinney’s lower body injury does not seem to be too severe, so hopefully Columbus can have him back in net soon. McKenna looked outstanding against the Rangers, so he should be able to manage the starting role for the time being.
It was great to see the Blue Jackets march into MSG and take one from the Rangers. It was even better to see Artem Anisimov score in his former home arena and Henrik Lundqvist get chased from the net. Oh, and #61 for New York was kept off the score sheet.
Check back tomorrow morning for a preview of the Columbus Blue Jackets vs the St. Louis Blues!
Tags: Columbus Blue Jackets