First things first: no, the fact that my team won in a shootout does nothing to change my underlying opinion that the shootout makes a mockery of the sport. Under the rules of the NHL as they exist, the Jackets took two points, and for that I am, of course, happy. I’d still like to see those rules changed, but that’s pissing into the wind at this point…
Anyway, this was a marked improvement over the Florida game on Wednesday. The play was sharper, the Jackets didn’t quit halfway through the third. They were far from perfect — Nik Zherdev turned the puck over and created the Wings’ tying goal, they failed to score on a five on three, failed to score on the PP in overtime, and they spent much of the third period on their heels. So there’s still much improvement to be had, but two points against Detroit is never easy, even on home ice. I’ll take it.
And I must say: this team looks so much better with Mike Peca in the lineup than without him. I don’t know if it’s his leadership or his faceoff skills — probably some combination of both — but I am very happy with this signing now, even if I was a little unsure about it at first. He just needs to stay healthy.
It was fun seeing Nationwide full again, even if it was officially a few hundred short of a sellout. I’d almost forgotten what the building looked like full. Of course, it was probably a quarter Red Wings fans fleshing out the attendance, but as with the on-ice performance, baby steps. It was pretty quiet most of the night for as full as the building was, and for having such a mix of home and away fans there. The hockey was sort of chess-like, especially in the first, so I suppose that didn’t help the atmosphere much. It picked up late in the third, when it became apparent the game was headed to OT.
Aaron Downey patting Jared Boll on the back after they’d just finished a marathon fight was a fun moment. I wouldn’t be surprised to see that clip show up on “Coach’s Corner” next week.
And just because Wings fans have a (not entirely undeserved) reputation in Columbus for being jerks, I will note that I had two Wings fans sitting next to me in 211, and they were perfectly well-behaved and polite. Cheered for their team, cursed the ref when calls went against them, and so on, but no arrogant crap. In fact, there were a number of Wings fans in our section, and I didn’t notice any real problems or nastiness all night. So kudos to the Wings fans in 211 for not living up to the stereotype.
Now on to Western Canada for the Jackets…never a site of much success; time to change that!