Sunday, January 11, 2009

Gm # 41: Blue Jackets 4, Wild 2

Who knew the 'borscht belt' ran thru mid-Ohio?

The Minnesota Wild found out first hand Saturday night at Nationwide Arena, as the Columbus Blue Jackets, led by 18-year-old Nikita Filatov, the No. 6 overall pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, scored his first pro hat trick (and the first ever by a Columbus rookie) to lead the Jackets to a 4-2 win over the offensively-challenged Wild. Jakub Voracek chipped in with 3 assists, as the Jackets moved ahead of the Wild into 9th place in the NHL's Western Conference.

Wild goalie Josh Harding took the loss, which ran his record for the season to 1-5-1 overall.

The Wild looked like they didn't really want to finish this game, as they took a 1-1 score into the third period before the youth of the Blue Jackets -- who defeated Washington 3-0 Friday night at Verizon Center -- served themselves as the Wild defense gave way to the speedier, hungrier Columbus rookies. Five Columbus regulars, including star forward Rick Nash, were sidelined by injuries, as the Jackets came home off a six-game, transcontinental road trip.

The highlight -- at least for Wild fans -- was a 'Rock 'em, Sock 'em'-style fight between the Wild's Craig Weller and Columbus' Jared Boll, as the two threw haymakers like they would be illegal after midnight. Here is the fight on YouTube:

The entertaining fight, however, did little to raise the efforts of the Wild, who have now scored 6 goals in their last 4 games, all on the road. The Wild now come home to face another team who, like themselves, have had expectations lowered as the season has progressed, when they face the Phoenix Coyotes for the last time this season Tuesday night at Xcel Energy Center.

We found the assembled multitude drowning their sorrows in the Arena District, next door to Nationwide Arena:

Chicken Little: When the Wild really want to stop playing, the results are devastating.

Pollyanna: At least Craig Weller had a good night! (Er, good fight.)

Bottom Line: This game sucked. Is there a contest on who can come out the flattest on this team right now? No offense, precious little defense, and goalies who have no room for error. Bad combo. The ship needs to be righted. The roster needs to be shaken up. Trades need to be made. But Doug Risebrough really doesn't have the stones for it. He'd rather stand pat with this bunch. Wrong way to think.

Stud: They all wore blue sweaters last night.

Dud: Once again, so many duds, so little time...Martin Skoula showed flashes of his true self (e.g., helped give up the first Jackets goal) with his lack of effort, PMB had at least two 'Spin-O-Turnovers', Marek Zidlicky was frequently out of position at both ends of the ice, Benoit Pouliot with one hand on the stick while playing the puck, etc., etc., etc.

Next: vs. Phoenix, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 7:00 PM Central Time (6 PM Mountain). (TV: KSTC-45, FSAZ (in HD), XM Ch. 239)


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