First game of the Claude Noel interim era on Thursday. I went — first win I’ve seen in person in its entirety since….um….several decades ago? (Actually, November 7 against Carolina. So just in the last decade) It was a pretty boring affair, as I recall (I went out carousing after the game, so most of my memories of it are seen through a thick haze of beer, karaoke, and cupcakes), not many good scoring chances by either team, neither team really dominating. The most exciting moment was probably Umberger’s empty net (!) goal scored from his stomach in the dying minutes to make it 2-0. Dallas rather quickly answered back to make a thrilling game of it for the last minute, but Mason held on. So, not exactly a 180-degree turnaround for the Jackets in the post-Hitchcock era, but a promising enough start, I suppose.
Buffalo tonight. I’m going, so I had some hopes that Snowmageddon might keep some of the drunken WNY hordes at bay. But this is Buffalo we’re talking about, so no. I think I need a drink already…
In other news, former Jacket O-K Tollefsen is now a Red Wing, so we’ll be seeing more of him (assuming he’s not hurt when the Jackets and Wings meet).
There’s also some sad news in the hockey world today. You’ll recall a few months ago I posted a link to John Buccigross’ excellent piece about the relationship between Leafs GM Brian Burke and his son Brendan, a student manager with the Miami hockey team who had come out publicly as gay in the macho world of hockey. Sadly, Brendan Burke and a friend were killed in a car accident in Indiana yesterday. Condolences to the families and the Miami hockey program.
Jackets get a big two points on the road…Huselius with a big night…Mason getting his groove back. But the main talking point from this game is going to be the ugliness that unfolded in the second period. Might as well go to the video:
James Neal with an elbow to the head of Derek Dorsett, whose back was turned. It was really pretty scary to see Dorsett try to get up and then just go down like a sack of potatoes, out cold. He was up on his feet later, which was a good thing. Hopefully he ends up not too seriously hurt.
Neal received a game misconduct, and the Jackets made the Stars pay, scoring twice on the five minute PP. But there’s got to be some supplementary discipline for Neal here. Even those people who don’t want the league to outlaw shoulder checks to the head couldn’t see driving a guy’s head into the glass from behind with an elbow. No excuse for it. Just a dirty play, and hopefully a suspension will result.
Figures, every time I really suspend my disbelief and start believing in this team, they turn around and lay an egg. And it’s all the more frustrating when they keep doing it in games with teams fighting for that same #8 spot. At least the Miami-Bowling Green game, which I switched over to, was more entertaining. Sigh.
And the news just gets worse for the Jackets. The club announced that Steve Mason has mono. He’s been playing through it so far, but this can’t be seen as anything other than a huge blow to the Jackets’ playoff chances. What a way to kick off a new month…
They looked set to give this game away on a number of occasions, but the Jackets pulled out the season opening road win in dramatic fashion, Rick Nash scoring the game winner late in OT. Way to start the season, especially for a club that has historically struggled so much on the road.
I was back and forth between this game and the St. Lawrence-Michigan tilt on the internet (bad guys won), so I didn’t get a comprehensive look at the Jackets, but the kids seemed to do pretty well tonight. Kris Russell was especially noticeable.
On to Phoenix tomorrow!
Couldn’t really ask for anything more from this game — Jackets come from behind on the road to win a game in regulation. Kris Russell finally scores not just his first NHL goal, but his second as well, and it’s the GWG to boot.
They’re still outside the top eight in the West, but hanging in there close to a playoff position. Now to dispense with Chicago on Thursday and go into the All-Star break on a high note.
Sigh…Jackets played not badly, but couldn’t beat Turco. And the lackluster shootout performance continues.
On the bright side, Pascal didn’t look to be feeling any ill effects of his recent hamstring knack.
Not a great start to the most important month of the season, but at least they got the loser point. Hope for better on Wednesday. And will Mark Recchi be a Jacket by then? Hmm..