For the first time this season, Blackhawks defensemen keyed the offense as they led the way to a 6-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. By the way the Jackets performed Thursday night, they were made to order for a struggling club looking to an end a losing streak. Still, the Hawks deserve creditfor taking care of business.
Joel Quenneville should breathe a sigh of relief as the Hawks power play clicked three times. In total, the effort was vastly better and Corey Crawford had a decent outing as well.
The Hawks were able to generate speed and a lot of shots by defensemen moving the puck up ice. The Hawks led early and stayed focused. The Blackhawks controlled the majority of play until they pulled in their horns in the third period.
To put the Blackhawks victory into context, the dismal performance by the Blue Jackets has to be mentioned. The struggles for Columbus began with sub-par goal keeping.
For whatever reason there are times a player suddenly loses his ability to perform at a high level.
In 2008-2009, Columbus goal tender Steve Mason won the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL rookie of the year. Mason then signed a two year, $5.8 million contract extension in September of 2009. The Blue Jackets appeared to have found their franchise goalie for the future.
In the following season Mason was only average, and now he looks broken. The Blue Jackets are guilty of having suspect defensive coverage and have given up more goals than any other club. But Mason looks like a shadow of the goalie he was in his rookie year. In many games, Mason hasn’t given his club a chance to win, as was the case Thursday night.
Mason looks like his confidence has eroded to the point he might not recover. That would be a shame, as he is only 23 years old.
The Blue Jackets had a long four day break since suffering an embarrassing loss this past weekend. They should have been charged up and ready to battle, but instead they began the contest looking unprepared. Their best player, Rick Nash, was mostly invisible in the opening period.
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