The loss on Sunday was like bitter beer face. A long, refreshing swig of winning hockey, followed by a horribly sour aftertaste of a loss. Hitch wins. Russell scores. I'm sure at least a few Jackets fans vomited in their mouths a little.
But we move on. Thankfully, there have been positive signs in the past couple of weeks. Curtis Sanford has delivered solid play and inspiration. Jeff Carter and Rick Nash have started to yin and yang. Derek Dorsett continues to elevate his game and fire us up with his grit, energy and attitude. And Ryan Johansen is proving that he belongs. It felt like it was raining cannonballs on Friday night as the Blue Jackets bombarded Buffalo 5-1. Wins and losses aside, it was a tremendous feeling and one that Blue Jackets fans so desperately want to experience more often.
So while there may be little or no hope of making the playoffs, there are still some compelling story lines for Jackets fans to follow. It's safe to watch games again and you don't have to worry that you'll be induced to vomit, at least when we're not playing the Blues.
Which brings us to the docket for this week, a swing through western Canada that kicks off tonight in Vancouver, with a back-to-back on Thursday and Friday nights in Calgary and Edmonton. Who knows what will happen when the NHL announces its realignment plan in two weeks or so. The Blue Jackets could use some good news, and good news would come in the form of less games in the west. But as it stands, this is the first of four trips out west this season for the Jackets. So strap it on.
Despite the disappointing loss to the Blues on Sunday, the Blue Jackets are a team that seems to be building confidence. If they can manage to keep it going on this four game roadie (they visit Montreal on December 6 after getting back from the west coast), the schedule becomes somewhat favorable. The Jackets will be home for five straight and seven out of eleven to close out the month of December and 2011.
If the Blue Jackets want the atmosphere in Nationwide to be festive this holiday season, two wins this week out west would really spike the punch bowl. It's a tall order as always given the long travel and the change in time zones. It's even taller when you consider that the Canucks are 7-3 in their last ten and have won four straight. And Calgary/Edmonton on back to back nights is no box of chocolates.
Oh well. Never say never! Here's to late night hockey and the snooze button. (This one's for you, Rick!)