In the second game I've attended with Ken Hitchcock behind the bench, the Jackets played an outstanding and very exciting 60 minutes against the Red Wings.
The Jackets ignited the crowd of 17,000 eight minutes into the first period with a tremendous shorthand goal by speedster Jason Chimera. Hasek came out to feed the puck around the boards to his changing power play lines and Chimera swept in, stole the puck and dropped it in the net over the Dominator's shoulder. The goal lit the crowd on fire, but sat the Red Wings faithful that always populate Nationwide when Detroit is in town.
A second goal came only 90 seconds later with a swift two pass combo from Fedorov and Vyborny, then to Nash in front of the net. Before the end of the first period, former Red Wing Sergei Fedorov would score as well.
The crowd was ecstatic to go into the first intermission up 3-0, and it was demonstrated loudly. In the six games I've attended this season, last night was by far the loudest and the most crowd-involved. This town is reclaiming its stake in the CBJ franchise, now that they've turned it on again.
If I may air a frustration, the Blue Jackets weren't as hot in the second and third periods. It seemed that the team went into cruise control following the first intermission, and didn't regain the killer instinct until late in the third when Detroit nearly sent the game into overtime. For 40 minutes, the Jackets were pushed around and had a difficult time controlling any part of the game. The Jackets mustered 7 shots in each of the second and third periods while the Red Wings fired 16 and 13 shots, respectively. It seemed like so many more, however. Norrena held down the net as if it were the Alamo, despite Babcock's (Pancho Villa's?) troops firing away. There were a number of times that a Detroit goal felt imminent, but so many of their scoring chances came up with naught.
The last five minutes of the game were a wild ride. A full-ice back and forth between the teams amounted to one more goal apiece, including Fedorov's second of the night, and an incredible timely save by Norrena. The crowd was on its feet for the finish, and they were not disappointed... Aside from the few thousand Wing fans.
I can almost sympathize for the Detroit fans though. I too was once and Red Wing fan. It was a different era then, though. Names like Yzerman, Fedorov (he's still one of my all time fav's), Paul Coffey and others are more of my Detroit time. Of course, the Blue Jackets were only a twinkle in McConnell's eye then. Since 2000, it's been all about the CBJ.
Anyway, the three stars of the game were Fedorov, Nash and Vyborny, though Norrena really deserved one of those spots. For the second and third period the rookie goaltender stood on his head.
The Jackets played sharp last night, and hopefully they continue to do so tomorrow when they play the Wings in Detroit. Catch the game on FSN.
Jackets win 4-3
Now 12-17-3, 27 pts, 4th in the central division (5 pts behind Chicago)
Photo taken by: Jamie Sabau, from BlueJackets.com