The Columbus Blue Jackets continued to show improvement early in the new season. Wednesday night’s win over the Anaheim Ducks may not have been the most entertaining game, but it was a gritty, hard fought 3-1 victory for the Blue Jackets.
Columbus opened the scoring on a supreme effort by Derek MacKenzie. At 3:32 of the second period, MacKenzie took the puck from Ducks’ defenseman Andreas Lilja and released a wrist shot that went underneath the pads of Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller and into the goal. MacKenzie followed the puck into the net after releasing the shot.
The Blue Jackets then scored 1:11 later on a busted play and a defensive breakdown by the Ducks. Rick Nash notched his second goal of the season with a wrist shot that also went underneath Hiller’s pads to make the score 2-0.
The Ducks finally answered with a sloppy goal of their own to open the final period. Veteran forward Teemu Selanne beat Jackets goalie Steve Mason with a wrist shot to the blocker side to narrow the deficit to 2-1. But, with 27.8 seconds remaining in the third period, Rick Nash iced the game with an empty-net goal to make the final score 3-1 in favor of the Blue Jackets.
The victory improved the Blue Jackets record to 3-2-0 on the young season.
Here is an analysis of the Blue Jackets performance tonight:
Derek MacKenzie : MacKenzie is making quite the case for staying up with the Blue Jackets long term. He has spent the majority of his pro career being jettisoned between the Blue Jackets AHL affiliate and the parent squad. But with goals scored in two consecutive games, MacKenzie is doing his best to make any imminent demotion quite difficult. He also gave the team a spark tonight to get things started.
Rick Nash : The Blue Jackets team captain finally found the back of the net, scoring twice. The second goal was an empty-netter to ice the win. When Nash scores, the Jackets remain competitive. When he suffers a drought, the Jackets have trouble winning.
Steve Mason : Don’t look now but the Blue Jackets top netminder is starting to resemble the player that won the Calder Trophy in 2008-09. Despite the lack of support from his defense, Mason has been solid in net. It appears his sophomore slump of a year ago may have been an fluke.
Scott Arniel : The Blue Jackets rookie head coach made good use of his timeout, calming his club down after they resorted to sloppy play in their own zone. The team regained its composure and found a way to win the game.
Ethan Moreau’s injury : Moreau left the game after taking a vicious slap shot to the chest at the beginning of the second period. Given his much needed leadership and tenacious, two-way play, one can only hope that Moreau’s injury is not serious and he can return to the lineup soon.
The Banged-Up Blueline: While defenseman Nick Holden recorded a +1 in his NHL debut, he and Nate Guenin were brought up from the Blue Jackets AHL affiliate due to a rash of increasing injuries to key defenseman: Anton Stralman, Mike Commodore and Kris Russell are all out of the linneup. For the Blue Jackets to come out of the gate well, they will need an immediate return to health of this defensive group.
Room for Improvement
The power play continued to struggle: The power play often looked pedestrian and without flow. The players were trying to be too fine with their passes and were passing too often. When any athlete struggles, usually the best advice is to perform the simplest act – in this case, to just “shoot the puck”.
Up next for the Blue Jackets are the Calgary Flames who will be playing their second game in as many nights when they face the Blue Jackets. Their opponent the night before? The Detroit Red Wings. Much like tonight’s game, Friday’s game will also be one for the taking for the improving Blue Jackets.