Since Pat requested this, here you go.
So I went to a fight last night in Columbus... and a hockey game broke out. No seriously, this was my first trip to Nationwide Arena in a few years to see the Dallas Stars take on the Columbus Blue Jackets and it was worth every penny.
From the opening face-off, the Jackets came out pissed off and looking for redemption from a 6 - 3 shellacking they endured on Thursday night against the Edmonton Oilers. The Jackets also came out looking for blood. This was the game many of us were expecting to see for more than a year following the James Neal hit on Dorsett. It was so intense I couldn’t even update Twitter much. Thanks to those who asked me if I was OK. The atmosphere in the entire building matched that of the Blue Jackets. There were some pretty pissed off Jackets fans surrounding me, so I kept my comments to a minimum. I did cheer really loudly on that second Brad Richards goal to much scorn. Also got some pretty weird looks for yelling "Stars" during the anthem. Yikes.
Kari Lehtonen looked amazing in goal and is the only reason the Stars did not lose this game in the first period in my opinion. He looked very comfortable in the crease - especially with his lateral movement. Columbus to their credit came out very aggressive, but they were too aggressive at times. Dorsett tried to get involved in all of the scrums he could, drawing a roughing penalty in the third that set up the 4-on-4 situation that allowed Brad Richards to score. Thanks for opening up the ice there Dorsett to give Brad more room to work his magic. It reminded me a bit of watching the Oilers play in the 80’s with Gretzky, purposely drawing penalties to get players off the ice so the Great One had more room to move around.
The non-call on Grossman was outrageous but the officiating the whole night bad enough that I did check to see if our friend Dean Morten was there. It looked like too that one of the Blue Jackets too specifically took a shot at Brenden Morrow’s broken nose which I thought was cheap. He’s wearing a shield so why are you hitting him in the face - just to see if you can get at his nose? I also thought the Columbus second goal should’ve counted. The NHL has got to do something about the officiating.
But enough of the bad, there were some things I thought were really good last night for the Stars. I thought Adam Burish played a great game, especially while Ott was serving his misconduct penalty. He was all over the ice, mixing it up with Columbus players, blocking shots. Plus the chemistry he’s developed with Ott is awesome. They were talking to each other the whole game, before faceoffs, on the bench, etc… It reminded me a lot of how that old ‘99 team interacted.
Then there was too Brad Richards. He had an exceptional game, both of his goals were just great goal scorers goals. As I was watching Richards on the ice, and this is really the first time I’ve had this thought during a game, all I could think was that we are so screwed if we can’t find a way to re-sign this guy. It wasn’t even the goals that made me feel this, it was when Morrow was so frustrated after the Grossman hit that Richards was talking to the officials. He’s becoming an even more important part of this team since the departures of Modano and Turco in more ways than just scoring. Oh dear God please help Nieuwy find a way to get him re-signed long term in Dallas.
Finally, I also thought we did a good job of neutralizing Rick Nash. It’s always a good game when you can stop Rich Nash.
The Columbus media picked Brad as the number 1 star of the game but I thought it should’ve gone to Kari. Garon played well too for the Jackets.
It was a dirty, mean hockey game and was certainly entertaining. In hindsight, I wish we had put Fistric and Sutherby out there instead of Nisky and Barchie - just for their physical presence. I think Sutherby fights better than Barchie. But kudos for Barch getting involved the way he did. I’m just glad I didn’t get killed at the game. I hope Grossman is OK. I am 2 for 3 in attending Stars games this year. Behold the power of the tattoo.