Saturday, November 14, 2009

Friday Round-up

The Jackets bounced back from Wednesday's 9-1 drubbing with a shootout victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Friday winning by a 3-2 final. The Captain iced the game in the shootout scoring an "interesting" goal after nearly falling down during his approach toward Jean-Sebastian Giguere. As Nash made his approach from his right to left, it appeared that he nearly lost his footing, and with all of his weight on his right foot, and his left in the air like this he surprised Giguere with a roof shot above the right shoulder of the Ducks netminder.

Kristian Huselius was huge in his return to the lineup with a goal, an assist and the shootout winner, and though Raffi Torres was placed on IR freeing a roster spot for Juice, it's clear we trade grit for skill in that exchange. In addition, Ken Hitchcock gave a start to Mathieu Garon, and he did not disappoint making 32 saves and improving to 17-4 all-time in shootouts. Garon made several nice stops but a glove save on Ryan Getzlaf when the game was tied at 2 was probably his best of the evening. And, in playing so well, does this set up a goaltending controversy? Will Garon get another opportunity Monday night or does Hitchcock return Steve Mason to the lineup with an ultimatum?

Next up for the Jackets? Monday night at Nationwide as the homestand concludes against the Edmonton Oilers at 7pm. Assuming an empty building on a Friday night is a predictor of Monday's attendance, I think it's fair to suggest there are still good seats available. The lower bowl looked to be pretty sparse which is not a good indication for a franchise that purportedly is struggling with financial issues.

Around the college game, Ohio State defeated Western Michigan 4-2 on the strength of three
goals in 49 seconds as the Buckeyes rallied from a 1-0 third period deficit. Junior netminder Dustin Carlson (Forest Lake, Minn.) made 19 stops to earn his first victory of the season. And, it was the first time this season Ohio State has won on Friday night. With the win, Ohio State improves to 4-6-1 and 3-3-1-1 in the CCHA. The two teams will meet again this evening at Value City Arena at 8:05pm.

In Bowling Green, Ohio, the Bowling Green Falcons earned their first win of the 2009-10 season by upsetting #9 Alaska 3-1. Many in college hockey circles have questioned the legitimacy of the Nanooks as they had not yet played a game outside the state of Alaska. With the win, the Falcons improve to 1-7-1 and 1-3-1-1 in the CCHA. Despite being outshot 25-17, the Falcons potted a goal in each period with highly regarded freshman, and Jordan Samuels-Thomas (Windsor, Conn.) scoring his fourth goal of the season. Samuels-Thomas was selected by the Atlanta Thrashers in the 7th round of this year's entry draft and stands 6'2" making him an interesting prospect if he continues his rapid development. With the loss, the Nanooks fall to 6-2-1 (3-2 CCHA) and have had a little of their early season luster removed. The teams conclude their weekend series this evening at the BGSU Ice Arena at 7:35pm.

In Oxford, Ohio, #1 Miami and Ferris State played to a 2-2 tie with the Bulldogs earning an extra point in the CCHA standings by winning a shootout. The game is viewed nationally and for the purposes of RPI and NCAA tournament selection as a tie because the CCHA is the only college hockey conference that has decided to settle ties with a shootout. So, Miami moves to 8-1-2 overall and 5-1-1 in the CCHA while Ferris moves to 7-3-1 and 2-2-1-1. Ferris got on the board first in the second period on a goal from senior forward Blair Riley at 1:50, but Miami would tie it on a shorthanded goal from freshman defenseman Joe Hartman (St. Cloud, Minn.) at 19:59 of the second period. Miami led 2-1 with less than a minute left in regulation, but as has become this team's most concerning problem, the RedHawks were again unable to hold down the fort after Ferris State pulled their goaltender with around a minute to play. In fact, of their last eight games where an opponent has pulled their goaltender for an extra skater, Miami has surrendered goals in six games. And, in two of those games, Miami allowed more than one extra attacker goal, no larger than the two they gave Boston University in last spring's national title game. What's worse is that Miami has only scored empty netters in two of those eight games. Extra attacker defense must be a point of emphasis going forward. It's getting to the point where you wonder if a team isn't better off playing without a goaltender for longer stretches of time just to test it.

Ferris State and #1 Miami conclude their weekend series tonight at 7:35pm from Steve Cady Arena. The game can be seen around the great state of Ohio on ONN.

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