Tuesday, October 13, 2009

(Almost) Flaming Chili

Three of the four editors for this blog attended the Jackets game tonight vs. Calgary. The Jackets emerged victorious, winning the second home game of the season and locking a franchise-best start with a 4-1 record. The final score was 2-1, but the 13,000 faithful in Nationwide Arena were robbed of the third goal on a controversial early whistle by an official (scored by Antoine Vermette) and hence denied free Wendy's chili. More on that later.

With Calgary coming off an epic OT loss last night against the Blackhawks, it was safe to assume that they would be a little hot. And they were. The Jackets took the first period to get their legs going after a long West Coast trip. It's late and my brain is still a little slow from the generous pours of the R Bar, so I'm going to forego a period-by-period breakdown and give my random thoughts and observations from the game. Certainly, we'll get better at breaking down games as time goes on -- so cut me a break on this first one.

  • Had the good fortune to sit in the Club Level tonight. The carver sandwiches are a miracle on bread. They could literally solve the world's problems. I recommend the roast beef. If you get the chance, try one and order another just for taste.

  • Jackets had a bit of a slow start, but Jared Boll made a welcome return to the lineup. He made an immediate impact - literally - and dropped the gloves with Brandon Prust. Boller didn't seem to be feeling any ill effects from the dirty hit he took in Vancouver. I really liked having Boll and Dorsett in the lineup -- especially against a very physical and irritated Calgary team. We needed that edge tonight.

  • Speaking of an edge, Nikita Filatov was spotted on the edge of the sidewalk in front of Boston's at approximately 6 p.m. before the game. Obviously, he didn't make it into the lineup tonight. When asked about this in the post-game presser, Hitch just stated that it's a 23-man roster and it was his time to sit. He obviously doens't bring the physical presence of someone like Dorsett, but it will be interesting to see how he responds when he gets to lace em' up for the next game. Much has been said about Filatov's declining amount of ice time, but I'm in the camp of "In Hitch We Trust" for the time being.

  • Speaking of second chances, Mason responded really well this evening. There was no hiding the fact that he didn't have a good outing in San Jose, and he needed to bounce back this evening after getting pulled at the beginning of the third period in that 6-3 loss. The Jackets D played very well in front of him this evening, but he was sharp. His angles were good and he controlled the bulk of the rebounds. He also made some nice passes out of the crease to jumpstart breakouts. The only goal given up was a tough re-direct from Curtis Glencross (a recent addition to the Jackets alumni chapter) and he remained solid throughout the rest of the game. In typical fashion, he withstood a significant onslaught late in the third when the game was on the line.

  • The penalty kill is really friggin' good right now. The Jackets have killed 18 of 19 penalties, and as such, rate the top PK in the league. Yes, we're only five games in the season, but this unit looks very promising. With the likes of Vermette and Nash minding the points, I suspect they will also score a decent number of SH goals as well. The whole unit is blocking shots and jumping on rebounds. The effectiveness of the PK is allowing the Jackets to play with aggression and reckless abandon in their own end, and that suits Hitch's style very well. The Jackets only had to kill one penalty tonight, but the Flames came in with the best PP in the league. Let's hope this trend continues.

  • Anton Stralman can stay. While watching the game, we were wondering who's going to get off the blueline when Commodore returns from his groin injury. That probably warrants another post. Regardless, it won't be Stralman. Fresh from a good camp in Calgary of all places, Stralman has quickly made himself a new home with the Jackets. Although he was billed as a high-skill PP quarterback with a solid right-handed shot, he made very capable and precise decisions in his zone tonight. He flat out doesn't get rattled and makes a great first pass to start the break. Oh yeah - he also scored on Kipper with a blast during the 5 on 3. Remember when we wanted to turn down power plays because they were so painful to watch? The whole unit is better and generating more consistent puck rotation and shots, but Stalman is going to be a key piece of their success this year.

  • Vermette got screwed from a follow-up goal late in the third. To the officials' credit, he admitted the mistake to Vermette and the bench after the (premature) whistle was blown. Gotta love hockey. In the post-game interviews, Vermette made the point that they couldn't get too upset about the call, given that it was still a one-goal game. That speaks worlds to the maturation of this team. They remained focused and kept up solid pressure for the balance of the game. That's how you win tight games, folks. This team is learning to win and more importantly, how to do so consistently. In Hitch's words, that's a process that takes "years, not months." But I still thought this was a milestone for a very young team.

  • In closing,  a few more random thoughts:
    • 13,000 is not a very good crowd showing. Those in attendance were loud and engaged throughout, but there were plenty of blue seats in the lower bowl. This is common in October, but let's hope the fans turn out better for the game against LA on Saturday.
    • We outshot Calgary 33-23 -- a big switch from the last several games.
    • The Vermette, Umberger, Voracek line was amazing. They were physical, fast and dictated play when they were on the ice. Voracek is really due for a goal and I wouldn't be surprised to see him dent the twine on Saturday. His hair provides added power to all his linemates.
    • When you get into intermission contest betting with the people sitting around you, I learned an important consideration to make when placing your wager. Always bet on the dude that rolled into the Arena wearing shorts in October. It reflects a certain swagger that translates to "running on ice" games very effectively. Keep it smooth.


  1. Do I win anything for posting the first comment? So we are up and running here at Jackets Required. Big thanks to Stick on the Ice for getting the introduction and the 1st game summary posted for all of our fans to read. Lots more will follow as we figure out how to navigate our way around these interwebs. GO JACKETS.

  2. P.S. I stopped for Wendy's chili on my way home from the game despite not getting it for free. Oh wait, I paid for it with money I won off the game, so it was free. CHILI!!

  3. I missed the game as I am too close to D day. But I was super bummed that it was not carried on FSN Ohio. What was up with that?

  4. Thanks for joining in Mary! FSN Ohio doesn't carry all the games this year, but they do carry 75 I believe...and approximately 50 of those will be carried in HD. We'll do our best to keep you updated for other viewing options when FSN isn't carrying the game.

  5. Columbus needs to provide a better showing at our home games. Try sitting next to a Canadian--the Maple Laughs sell out even when they have a less than stellar season. Carry the Flag!