Columbus, OH –
For just the fourth time this season, the Columbus Blue Jackets sold out the barn and treated the 18,370 faithful to a win over the last place (Western Conference) Edmonton Oilers, 4-3. The game wasn’t decided until the 16:00 minute mark of the 3rd period when RJ Umberger dished the puck off the neutral zone wall to Kristian Husleius, who then entered the Oilers zone, a little head fake (thank you very much), wrists it past Nickolai Khabibulin to put the Blue Jackets into the lead for good.
Three players had two goal nights; RJ Umberger and Kristian Huselius for Columbus and Magnus Paajarvi from the Oilers. For the Boys in Union Blue, the second line of RJ Umberger, Antoine Vermette and Krsitian Huselius was the standard bearer for the team. They combined for 4-4-8 and a +/- of +11. In the words of baseball great phil Rizutto, can you say Holy Cow?!?!?
While Edmonton jumped out to an early 2 goal lead, the Blue Jackets never lost their composure. “It’s really important (to win both games, Edmonton/Detroit),” said Assistant Coach Dan Hinote. “We have a young, in-experienced team when it comes to things like that. It’s a matter of being in the hunt. You lose a couple of these games and you find yourself 9, 10 or 11 points out, it’s real tough after that. To stay in the hunt, we have to get our 6,7 points per every 5 game segment. We need to keep our sights on the 95/96 point total we’ll give ourselves a chance that way.”
Head coach Scott Arniel knows these wins are important. “Yes, it’s very important,” said Arniel. ” Detroit, big win. Obviously tonight had all the makings of a trap game against an Edmonton team that was below us (in the standings). We’ve been back playing our style of hockey for probably three weeks. I’m not surprised by how we played last night and tonight. We’ve grown as a group and matured as a group. And started to get back to doing things that give us a chance to win games.”
They have 30 games to go. 30 games to ultimately determine their fate. Will they make the playoffs? Will they be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline? If I were a betting man, I’d go with being a combination of buying and selling over the next few weeks. As the saying goes, you have to give to get. They’re almost there…