The Lorenzi Line
by Nicholas Lorenzi on 10/12/11 at 05:17 PM ET
It’s almost a week into the season and the Jackets turned me into a hermit. It’s been six days since the home opener at Nationwide Arena and six days since the Blue Jackets looked like the team from the preseason and what we’ve all been hoping for. The great power play we were to have this year hasn’t potted a goal yet; accredited to the overkill of an eight game suspension we are without the most important power play component, James Wisniewski. What has the goaltending aspired to be? Exactly what you expect, Mason is getting massacred with a lack of an aggressive defense. I don’t even want to know the passing percentage. So let’s break this down now and get this over with.
Opening night against rival Nashville and the crowd is sold out. The electricity in the stands transferred to the ice. Columbus was tearing it up and controlling the puck. The first power play went well and added to the excitement. When it all started to go downhill is during the second power play. We were unable to enter the zone and played like that for two pathetic minutes. Alright alright, we stayed patient in our seats and witnessed the Predators playing aggressively and attacking the Jackets when Columbus had possession, something that wasn’t returned. We had chances to see Columbus start the game off with a goal but Rinne was on fire. Mason was making some athletic saves as well and was starting to look like he had his confidence back; he was even passing the puck up the ice during the power play. This always will make me happy except for when he puts it on the opposing team’s stick.
Vinny Prospal stated during intermission “(We’re) not taking enough shots—simple hockey right now. There’s a lot of coverage all over the place and if you don’t take shots you don’t score”
The game was held at 0-0 going into the second period and it was time to lay it on thick; instead that didn’t happen. On the penalty kill the Jackets gave it up after 5 minutes. It was a top shelf glove side goal and started the pain within Mason. Columbus responded with mediocre play and constant dump and chase plays that usually failed behind the net. Alas, a drive to the net from the first line. It started Nash dishing a short pass to Carter who one timed the puck into Rinne that trickled by him. Prospal was there to finish the job and pot the first goal of the season. Less than two minutes later Nashville took the lead with a garbage goal from Smith behind the net.
Third period starts with a 2-1 deficit and the crowd is roaring, with a few small packs of Nashville fans trying to yell over the thousands that outnumber them. Tyutin attempted to clear the puck along the boards but turned it over with a weak clear. From the turnover Halischuk forced the 5-hole goal on Mason with a backhand in the crease 39 seconds into the third period. Columbus worked hard for the next 19 minutes and found the net in 10. Rinne was out of position to the right of the net. Prospal dished it into the crease from behind the net and Nash buried it. This couldn’t have happened if Teemu Laakso of the Predators didn’t block Rinne from making the save. Thanks bud. After that Rinne make countless spectacular saves and Nashville left with a win.
The game ended with Columbus out shooting Nashville 34 to 31 with the first line getting 6 points. So there we have it, the first line works. What a relief. This was a 3-2 loss that was expected by most fans but what was unexpected was that our defense would fall apart as it did.
Next came Minnesota with newly acquired Dany Heatley wearing a Wild sweater. The puck dropped and 10 seconds later Cullen beat Mason’s glove on a 1 on 1. Well sonofabitch, they did exactly what’s needed in a Jackets hockey game: destroy Mason’s confidence early. To cut to the chase Mason gave up two quick power play goals in 31 minutes, two of which were top shelf glove side. The last goal was on a redirect and Mason had no chance. It’s 3-0 into the second period and the Jackets are killing themselves by missing passes and not bringing the physical game needed to put the pressure on. Mason was sharp making some great saves but it wasn’t going to be enough without a checking Jackets defense in front of him.
The Jackets got robbed early on the faceoff after the third Wild goal. Calvert was standing next to Bouchard on the center ice faceoff. They were fighting for position and Calvert left with a split lip and a missing tooth. The argument here is that Calvert did it to himself but all eyes are on the faceoff. Calvert lifted his stick as Bouchard was slashing his, the lift put Bouchard’s stick into his face. He immediately left the ice, leaving a trail of blood behind him. The rule of thumb in hockey is that bloodshed makes any penalty a major, not in this case. The referees saw fit to call it as a double minor. Jacket’s head coach Scott Arniel was foaming at the mouth over this. You could almost make out the cursing just from the intensity in his eyes. Columbus still failed to score on the 4 minute power play…
Bouchard later apologized to Calvert who seemed to not appreciate as much as he would hope. Bouchard was suspended for two games by the Shanahammer which I can’t agree with. Yes it was in his face but after viewing it the next day the hit was partially accidental. I fail to see how this could have resulted in a concussion. Matt Calvert ended up having stitches on his upper lip and lost a tooth. That’s not an entirely bad thing Matt because now you will look like a hardened hockey player. Repay the favor next time you see Bouchard.
The Blue Jackets had their moments and chances, one of which had Umberger beating himself up on the bench after losing the puck on a backhand in the crease that hit the post. The first goal for Columbus came from a garbage goal that came from Derek Dorsett collecting a puck that found its way behind Backstrom and onto Derek’s stick. This play was reviewed to see if he kicked it in, but he didn’t and it was allowed. Like the night before Minnesota scored their fourth goal on Mason a minute after Columbus’s first. Mason was pulled and replaced by 32 year old Curtis Sanford. It wasn’t hard to tell that 6’ 4” Mason wasn’t in net with 5’ 11” Sanford in the crease.
He stood tall making 3 saves in 18 solid minutes and wasn’t challenged as much as Mason. Maksim Mayorov capped off the end of scoring with a wrist shot to make it a 2-4 loss for Columbus. The shots on goal favored Columbus with 31 against 26.
Next game on one hell of an opening schedule the Jackets saw the Canucks.
The game started off with a good fore check on both ends. Vancouver and Columbus were landing some hard hits on each other and gave the fans in Columbus a chance to see the “other speed” coach Scott Arniel was talking about. The tenacity of the Calvert, MacKenzie and Atkinson had us on the edge of our seats. Cam Atkinson connected with a shot that flew by Corey Schneider to start off the scoring 8:42 into the first period. Former Blue Jacket Manny Malhotra came off the bench and answered with a helluva shot from the blue line that Mason didn’t see coming.
It was tied 1-1 going into the second period and the muscle was on. The Jackets held the Canucks to 2 shots in the first period, getting 11 of their own; this team was starting to look up. Marc Methot landed a solid hit on Henrick Sedin which made him collapse. Methot was called for boarding and was under investigation for a possible suspension. I’m really starting to wonder about this new game of hockey and how every hit could be the one to get you suspended.
Mason was on point and so was the defense shutting down Vancouver’s efforts. Passes were connecting and turnovers were created on Canuck’s ice. After 18 minutes Prospal dipped the puck on a wrap around into the net between the post and under goaltender Schneider to give Columbus two goals.
Columbus started the third period in the lead 2-1 and gets robbed by the referees early in the period. From a shot by Maksim Mayorov the puck got by Schneider and Sammy Pahlsson rushed in to get the puck out of the crease and into the net. In a desperate act Canuck Christopher Tanev crashed the net and covered the puck. Regardless the puck made its way into the net a whole second after the net was lifted by Vancouver. After reviewing the play it was decided that a penalty shot would be served. This is infuriating and Scott Arniel’s blood pressure spiked again.
After being stopped by Corey Schneider and the goal that should have been the Jackets fell. A 3-1 Jackets lead would have undoubtedly given Columbus the momentum to win but instead they gave up a goal one minute afterward. Then another on a Canuck power play seven minutes later. The game ended with a Jackets empty net and a 2-3 loss. The first time in franchise history Columbus has dropped three in a row to start the season. I came out of this game excited to see Calvert, MacKenzie and Atkinson on the ice together again.
Now let’s breathe. The season started with 3 difficult games and unsure lines. Nashville always gives us their best game and Minnesota is our brother having started their NHL career the same year we did. A win against western conference champions Vancouver would have been a great win but it wasn’t in the cards. Finally we’re going to have an easy game against Colorado who finished 29th last year. This is the chance for Columbus to hopefully murder and pillage a team in the West.
This game tonight we’ll see former Jacket Jan Hedja for was with Columbus for four seasons and was a great defenseman. We won’t be seeing Jeff Carter tonight due to the flu and will see Ryan Johansen play his second game for Columbus. After ten games Johansen’s NHL contract with the Jackets will start and I don’t see Columbus wanting that to happen. Watch Nash, Umberger, MacKenzie and Brassard to score tonight. Last year R.J. Umberger and Derek MacKenzie had shorthanded goals on Colorado. Mason’s record of 2-5-1 against the Avs needs to be ignored tonight. Let’s get that win boys!
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