Sunday, October 4, 2009

Game #1: Blue Jackets 2, Wild 1

By Wild Road Tripper

Well, you have to start somewhere.

After the disasterous season which was 2008-09, the Wild have been overhauled, with new GM, Head Coach (and most of his staff), four new significant players and new, more offensive style. Playing on the road, in Columbus' home opener, the Wild found that their own mistakes came back to haunt them. In front of a packed house (18,159) at Nationwide Arena, the Wild found out that the new systems do, indeed, work, but some tweaking is still needed.

Wild Offense: The new, more-attacking style fits some of the Wild forwards. Not all, but some. There were several examples of long-term sustained pressure, especially in the third period as the Wild tried to tie it up late. However, there still is room to improve.
Wild Defense: Except for a couple of blunders, it was very good, especially during a 4-minute power play following a Brent Burns high-sticking penalty.

Jackets Offense: Played like they really wanted it; R. J. Umberger was the best player on ice for either team last night.
Jackets Defense: Good enough, especially late, to pull this one out.

Leader: Umberger. He was everywhere at both ends of the rink last night.
Lagger: Pierre-Marc Bouchard. Benched in the second period, then relegated to the fourth line in the third. Was the message received? We hope so.

Stud: Rick Nash. His sliding clear of the puck with 17 seconds left in the game snuffed out the Wild's last chance at victory.
Dud: Kim Johnsson, not being able to clear his man out from in front of a screened Niklas Backstrom, as the game winning goal was scored.

And now, for yet another season, the Assembled Multitude:

Chicken Little: Lemaire's team would have never let that happen! They would have played defense first!
Pollyanna: For a team which only has been together for two games, this was not a bad effort. This team will get better as time goes on, and they get used to each other. Everyone knew that the start of the season would be rough. The learning curve is still pretty steep, but still very much obtainable.

Next: vs. Anaheim (home opener), Tuesday, Oct. 6, 8:15 PM Central Time (TV begins 8:00 PM: KSTC-45, FSPrime Ticket (both feeds in HD), XM Ch. 207)

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