So much for my reasonable, even-keeled approach to the playoffs. That game pushed me to about an 8.5 on the angst scale, something not seen this time of year since I lived in Eastern Ontario. That just hurt to be there tonight and see that game.
It was a great crowd. Biggest in franchise history. A real sense of occasion in the air. And fewer Red Wings fans than I think I’ve ever seen at a Columbus-Detroit game. The building was just crackling with electricity, and the Jackets’ defense broke down a minute in, Detroit scored, and the life started to go out of the crowd. They hung on for awhile, tried to get the team going, but the boo birds were out in the second period, and it was just funereal by the third.
The Jackets hit pretty well tonight, I’ll give them that. Although the biggest hit of the night (leaving aside Commodore launching himself into the Detroit bench) was by Stuart on R.J. Umberger, who looked to have his bell rung pretty good, but did return to score the CBJ’s only goal. The offense came on a bit late in the game, but early on they just looked so tentative, and had so much trouble getting the puck up ice. Yeah, they outshot Detroit, but most of those shots were not of the variety that would give Osgood much trouble. And the power play…yeah, they got one in the third, but up to that point it was pathetic as ever. I’ve expended too many pixels on that, though. It’s not going to be fixed now.
Who was good? Umberger showed himself to be a playoff performer again. Voracek continues to shine as someone who has raised his game in the post-season. Torres was playing physical and generating some chances that way. Klesla, a guy I’d pretty much written off by this point and considered trade bait, has looked good. Beyond that? Not much worth talking about. Nash was largely a non-factor again. I don’t know if he’s still feeling the effects of the concussion in Nashville, but Huselius looked to be skating in glue most of the night. Same with Modin — is he still hurt, or just completely ineffective? Vermette’s continued to disappoint after being such a revelation in the latter part of the regular season.
I have a feeling the crowd will be much more red on Thursday, as CBJ fans jump off the bandwagon and sell their tickets. I’ll be there, irritable and despairing as always during the playoffs. Don’t exactly relish the thought of watching them being swept, but it’s just looking inevitable at this point. Just keep repeating…it’s a learning experience…it’s a learning experience…