Opening night at Nationwide Arena. Fans are piling into the building, the beer is flowing. The air is thick with excitement and anticipation of things to come. We fans have been looking forward to this day since early summer. So many new faces, so many questions to be answered. How would Carter play with Nash? How much will Wiz help on defense and the power play? Will Mason rebound this year, or will we be looking for a new goalie this season? How will the rookies perform? Bluejackets fans were looking for answers last night.
First thing is first. One thing I noticed throughout the game was an improved experience. I thought Game Ops got off to a good start last night, hopefully this is a sign of things to come. There wasn't one time where I shook my head at the music, videos or games that were played. Good job to the new crew over there. The opening video was great. I really liked the song they choose (Foo Fighters Walk) and the sequencing of the video. It rivaled some of Skraut's work, and got the crowd pumped up. One of the best opening night intros so far, maybe only bested by the McConnell tribute.
On to the game, which I thought was very entertaining. I have to give credit to the Evil Empire, Rinne and their D is magnificent. The will be a force to be reckoned with regardless of how much they score. Having said that, this was a winnable game for the CBJ. I firmly believe that if we take advantage of one of those early chances when Rinne was out of position, it would have been a different game. But it wasn't, and despite the late comeback attempt, we couldn't get another one past Rinne.
The Defense stood out, and not in a good way. Savard looked lost out there more than a few times. He was less noticeable as the game went on, but I am not sure if his ice time got cut or he just got a little more comfortable. Russell looked worse than Savard at times. It has been well known that he is under pressure to step or be passed by the rookies. It looks like he is buckling under the pressure. Clitsome and Methot looked average. I wasn't impressed by Martinek, too lackadaisical at times. Tyutin was Tyutin, good play intermixed with a boneheaded mistake at the wrong time. The D cost us two goals. I am not panicking yet, but this group has to play better. Nashville isn't exactly an offensive juggernaut, but our D seemed to struggle with their forecheck and speed at times.
Not much to say about the first line, they were awesome together. Carter was impressive and Prospal seemed to mesh real well with them. Jeff was a monster in the faceoff circle, setting a new CBJ record for wins. Real happy about the way they played against one of the best defenses in the league.
Vermette's line was not clicking. If it wasn't for his faceoff ability, I would advocate switching him and Brassard. I thought Atkinson was noticeable all night, even though he was a -2. The third and fourth lines just seemed out be there, nothing special out of anyone. Brassard stood out a little to me, he seems to be trying to bring a more physical edge to his game. I noticed it in preseason and again last night. Johansen was invisible, but it was a tough opponent for your first game. All the rookies get a pass for a couple of games to see how they fare. Dorsett has to stop taking dumb, ill-timed penalties if he wants to stay on this team. Our forward lines will eventually get into the groove, I am not really worried about that group.
Mason, in my opinion, played well. The first and third goals were on the defense, I didn't think Mase had much of a chance on those. On the second goal, it looked like Martinek skated right in front of Mason as the puck arrived, maybe screening or slightly deflecting it. Regardless, Mason should have squeezed that one and not let it trickle out. Not a bad goal, but one he has to save if we want to win. Overall he was solid, not spectacular. The one that went off the mask was impressive, just because he was able to stay with the play and cover the puck. Couple of things he can shore up, but overall I thought played well.
Last thought, the crowd was pretty good all night. However, I am going to have to call out the Arch City Army. Where were you guys last night? There was a group of Nashville fans in 201 I could hear louder than you, and I was across the rink. I would have expected you guys to jump in and try to drown them out. After the first period I didn't hear a peep from 227. Don't give up on the dream guys! Oh, and a shout out to the guy in 217 who yelled 'Shoot!!!' every time a Jackets player touched the puck. You do understand that shooting right into the defensive player will not result in a goal, right? I started yelling "Shut Up!" every time he yelled, then we started yelling 'Shoot!' at the wrong moments, like TV timeouts, when the goalie had the puck, etc., just to make him look like an ass. He may have been annoying, but at least he provided some entertainment for us.
Chance to get one back tonight in Minnesota. I am hoping Mayorov goes in for Johansen. Let's go Jackets!