Written by: Matthew Ruskan (@MRuskun)
Edited by: Curt Ashcraft (@cashcraft740)
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So, do you want to know what kills a hockey team more than anything else (other than being coached by John Tortorella)? Stupid penalties. They make someone like me lose sleep and now enter Brandon Dubinsky with a very telling quote.
“I’ve got to know better. I’m a veteran and looked at to be a leader in here. It was just a dumbass play. I’ve got to make sure I hold myself accountable and be better,” said Dubinsky according to the Columbus Dispatch.
His boarding penalty against Montreal was, to put it lightly, terrible. Even someone who does not follow hockey would have wondered why this guy with an A on his jersey was hitting someone so far out of the play. To cap it off, it helped the Montreal Canadiens come back from a 2-0 deficit in the third to beat the Jackets. Ouch.
Then, just two nights later, fans inside Nationwide saw an incredible effort against the New York Rangers with one small snag, the King was in the house. A 2-1 loss may have not been the deserved result for the Jackets (who looked like the better team for much of the evening), but the CBJ discovered what many teams have: Henrik Lundqvist is never going to make scoring goals easy. There were, however, some positives in this match-up. Sergei Bobrovsky played a phenomenal game, which included an assist after he stoned Rick Nash from point blank in the former Blue Jacket’s second return to Nationwide as a member of the Rangers. Alexander Wennberg, a young centerman whom I neglected from mentioning before, had a great night in the faceoff circle and continues to develop nicely to give the Jackets a great 1-2-3 punch up the middle. But still, two points went into the total for the Rangers and zero for the Jackets.
The Jackets then, finally, got into the win column against the Boston Bruins, 3-1, on Saturday to start off the road trip. The Jackets defense, having continually gotten better in front of Goalie Bob, are now, debatably, the showpiece of this team, with Kevin Connauton coming on strong, and great play by James Wisniewski and Jack Johnson. If I am being honest, the chances of Columbus making the playoffs at this point are slim to none, but crazier things have happened. However, if this defensive corps keeps playing this way, the Jackets will be a legitimate contender next season.
The Jackets continue their road swing this week heading into the All-Star break, traveling to Minnesota tonight to take on the Wild and Winnipeg on Wednesday to play the surging Jets. Now, Minnesota is one of those teams that has me very, very confused. I had them as a dominant team coming into this season and how wrong I was, but yet sometimes they look like that team. This could be a huge momentum win for the Jackets. The Jets are playing some very good hockey recently, and I think that this will be a tough game for the Jackets, especially now that the Jets are healthy on their blue line.
After that, it is on to one of the most exciting and stupid weekends in hockey: The All-Star Weekend. Now, I could go off here about how terrible the selection process is, but I won't (however, you may want to keep checking the OSR page in the next several days if you want to hear more…). What I will talk about is two-fold.
First, this is amazing for hockey in Columbus. It is going to be a fun weekend of the stars aligning in Ohio’s capital. The area around Nationwide will have an outdoor rink and a great area for the fans to experience and enjoy.
Then there is the actual weekend. The fantasy draft, with teams captained by Columbus’ own Nick Foligno and Chicago’s Jonathan Toews, is incredibly entertaining and should lead to some interesting teams. Will Foligno go for his own goaltender in Goalie Bob? The questions are endless.
Now, I’m going to skip to the end of the weekend to be honest, the game kind of sucks. There is not much hitting (which is understandable) and a lot of goals scored. The real entertainment is Saturday and the skills competition.
The skills competition is one of the most impressive displays of pure talent you can see. And a pro tip for fans, when they get to the breakaway challenge, just watch Alexander Ovechkin. It will be worth it, I promise. For any fan of hockey, this weekend will be well worth the time spent.