The Columbus Blue Jackets were once again practicing in the very aptly named Ice Haus. It was akin to being at a pond watching a game of shinny, as I could see my breath. Some in the media were dressed for Arctic conditions. Even a few of the players said that their toes were frozen after the 90 minute practice.
The boys ran the practice with an edge, with a very uptempo pace and grinding battle drills that ran the length of the ice. While they didn’t garner two points against a tired Phoenix team Tuesday night, they played a more complete game than they have recently. The passing was crisper and tape-to-tape, while the energy level was higher, too.
They started the season by going 14-6, only to follow that up with a 6-14-3 record. The downslide coincided with a home and home series versus the Detroit Red Wings over Thanksgiving weekend.Losing those two games, although they played well, signalled the return of a lack of confidence within the club. At that time, they were battling for first place in the Western Conference. Amazingly, after regressing in the second 20 games, they still sit only 6 points out of a playoff spot.
They know that they have to turn it around. A sense of urgency must permeate every pore on every player. “If there isn’t (sense of urgency) in this room, there should be”, said forward Chris Clark. ” It’s something where each game, each week that goes by, you see the bottom teams falling farther and the top teams pull away. It always happens at this time of the year. We don’t want to have our ‘should’ves’ in March. We want to make sure we win those type of games.”
The players all know, but Scott Arniel especially, how important every game is from here on out. Remember that home/home versus Detroit? They play another home/home versus the Red Wings beginning Friday. Can this club bring their “A” game to this series to help right the skid? Do they believe in Karma? “We’re going to have to play a more complete game against Detroit”, said Arniel. “Last time we played them, there was an awful lot on the line. Now, we play them Friday and there’s even more on the line.”
“How we perform Friday night will be big”, Ariel said. “It might be the thing that kick starts us. It might be the thing that gives us all kinds of emotion moving forward. But, the tough part is that we have to play them 24 hours later all over again. I think we were looking at where we were (in November) and thinking about Hey, after the game we’ll be ahead of these guys.”
“The bottom line is that we need a win. We need a win to stop this bleeding that we have going on here.”
The one thing they need to be sure of is, don’t let their Karma run over their Dogma. It wouldn’t be pretty.
~Captain Rick Nash took a maintenance day to help with a minor, nagging injury.
~Defenseman Anton Stralman was not at practice due to an illness.
~Goaltender Steve Mason expects to be on the ice for practice Thursday. Said Mason, “I’m feeling good. I should be back on the ice tomorrow and I’m looking forward to this weekend series with Detroit.”
~Defenseman Marc Methot earned his 15th assist of the season to give him 15 points in 38 games. That’s more than double his points in 60 games last season. He now has a career high in assists and is two points shy of his career high 17 points in 2008-2009.