The Columbus Blue Jackets took down the Minnesota Wild in tonight’s rematch of the Unsustainabowl by a score of 1-0. Don’t be fooled by the low score though, this was a shot filled affair, with Sergei Bobrovsky notching the 38 save shutout, and Devan Dubnyk making 39 stops in the loss. The Wild looked to have jumped out to a lead in the middle frame, but it was ruled to have been kicked in by Erik Haula. The game remained scoreless until Brandon Saad buried his 19th goal of the season, with Nick Foligno on the assist. The Wild pressed incredibly hard the remainder of the game, but Bobrovsky was able to hold them off. The Jackets had 59% of the shot attempts through the first two periods, but were limited to 35% in the final frame amidst the Wild’s push, to finish at 49% for the game (per Natural Stat Trick). Tonight also featured the debuts of the two newest Jackets, Kyle Quincey and Lauri Korpikoski. Speaking of…
Good: Kyle Quincey
He was totally solid! He only played 14:35, but looked right at home, finishing second among Jackets defenders with a Corsi For of 60%. He added 1:45 on the penalty kill as well, which held the Wild to 0/4 tonight. Quincey isn’t someone who is going to make any crazy awesome plays or anything, but he skates well, moves the puck just fine, and looks at home on the right side. This is important, as Ryan Murray is significantly better on his natural left side. Murray has spent the bulk of the year playing the right side with Markus Nutivaara. Murray was much more active tonight, and was noticeably better with his gap control. If Quincey can just play like he did tonight the rest of the season, and allow Murray to play closer to his potential, the trade (which sent out Dalton Prout) will be a HUGE win. As for Korpikoski, he played only 10:29 on the fourth line tonight, and finished last among CBJ players with a 33% Corsi For. Not the best start for him.
Bad: The Read by Ryan Suter on Saad’s Goal
It is bizarre how Ryan Suter played this goal. Ignore what Jody Shelley is saying, because he absolutely did NOT play this well. This was a one on two, with a backchecker closer to the play than the next Jackets player. Suter should have been aggressive in pressing on Saad. He clearly just read this completely wrong. Either he did not realize he had his defense partner, Jared Spurgeon, by his side, or he thought Spurgeon was a Blue Jacket in his peripheral vision. Rewatch that goal again, and note where Suter is when Saad is breaking out of the zone, and where Suter is when they are crossing the blueline. Is Spurgeon was a Blue Jacket, Saad would have played the two on one perfectly. Fortunately for the Jackets, Suter gifted Saad entry into the offensive zone, enough space to (sort of) get a shot off, and Saad hustled in there to finish it off.
Confusing?: The Rise of Devan Dubnyk
Dubnyk was outstanding tonight, but I still don’t understand how he is actually as good as he is. You just don’t often see a goalie be mediocre at best for five years, look like he is about to be run out of the league, and then actually turn it around to be a top ten goalie. We all know goalies are voodoo, but the best measure we have of figuring if a goalie is actually good is even strength save percentage. Among goalies with at least 800 minutes of 5v5 time, Dubnyk had never finished finished than 20th overall or higher than the 58th percentile of goalies in 5v5 save percentage. In fact, that year (his third in Edmonton) is the only time he was ever even above the middle of the pack. His final year split between Edmonton and Nashville he was 60th of 63 goalies. Then he goes to Arizona, then Minnesota, and has been 4th, 12th, and now 5th in 5v5 save percentage. I was skeptical after one year, thought maybe year two was the beginning of a slip back to where he had always been, but he seems for real again this year. Bizarre.
Quote of the Night: Nick Foligno
“I’m proud of the guys. You can start to see the thought process and the mentality of guys, especially late in the game. Some guys who aren’t normally out there late in games are out there now and you can see Torts put out Bill, Andy, Korpi – shows that these guys are out there and they can do the job. It’s great to see the growth in our room, and the understanding that when you’re put out there in those situations to get the job done, and every guys is taking that to heart.”