If Matt Calvert was able to deliberately kick a loose puck into the net against the Edmonton Oilers while being slammed down to the ice backside first by a Ryan Nugent-Hopkins takedown that was more like a WWE smackdown, then Calvert needs to be moonlighting with Cirque de Soleil. Just in case you haven’t seen the video, check it out. It happened in the 2nd period of the Blue Jackets disheartening 6-4 loss to the Oilers Thursday night in Edmonton.
When the apparent goal was scored, I was absolutely, unequivocally sure it would stand. As a matter of fact, when our Blue Jackets Live producer Travis Williams said, with a straight face, that he didn’t have a good feeling about the situation, I laughed. I thought he was kidding. But he insisted there is precedence for these kinds of rulings going against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Turns out he was right, although the decision seemed to defy the laws of anatomical possibilities.
Admittedly, it’s hard to point to the no-goal ruling from the NHL War Room in Toronto as pivotal to the loss, since Columbus broke a 2-2 tie less than a minute later on a goal by Artem Anisimov. But it’s easy – at least for me, anyway – to look at the video, over and over again, and be as thoroughly confused today as the moment the ruling came down. Now I know why I focus on the great restaurants and shows and not the tables when I hit Vegas, because I would’ve bet a mortgage payment the goal would have been allowed to stand.
In addition to learning Matt Calvert has acrobatic skills and body control that would make the Flying Wallendas proud, I’ve also been reminded – again – never to doubt the Power of the Pens. That’s Pens as in Penguins, and more specifically their shrewd GM Ray Shero. Back in 2008, when Marian Hossa was the most coveted player available at the trade deadline, the prevailing notion as the deadline approached was the Montreal Canadiens had worked a Hossa deal with the then Atlanta Thrashers. Uh, not so much. At the very last minute, Shero swept in, and Hossa ended up with the Penguins. (And you know which player also ended up in Pittsburgh, as a throw-in to that deal? Pascal Dupuis. Yeah, that Pasal Dupuis, he of the 25 even-strength goals last year, the big guy with speed and a locker room demeanor that would add to the chemistry of any team in the world. The same guy who’s having another all-star season this year, quietly mind you, because he plays with Sid the Kid after all.) But back to my point.
Five years later, the prevailing thought was the Boston Bruins had a deal for Jarome Iginla. As a matter of fact, Boston GM Peter Chiarelli said he was told his trade proposal was accepted. Again, not so much. Again, Shero swept in, and Iginla is now a member of the Penguins. And the Bruins are left having to tell the two young players who were supposed to go to Calgary – Matt Bartkowski and Alexander Khokhlachev – that they are still loved by the Boston organization and shouldn’t take it personally. Maybe it isn’t really the Power of the Pens; maybe it’s just Sidney Crosby, the 2005 gift to Pittsburgh that just keeps giving, and giving, and giving. As Iginla said in his farewell press conference in Calgary, the chance to play with Crosby (and Evgeni Malkin) on a team that doesn’t lose games was pretty enticing. And with a no-trade clause as leverage, Iginla could call the shots. That left the Penguins crowing, and the Bruins and Flames eating crow.
With less than the hoped-for results on this current road trip, the Blue Jackets playoff chances are slipping. Yes, there’s still a chance the team can climb its way over the bar, because things are still tight in the Western Conference, but Columbus hasn’t proven it can produce the road results it would need to secure a playoff spot, and two-thirds of April’s games are on the road. So, what does this mean for the trade deadline? Will the Blue Jackets be buyers, or sellers? In my opinion, they’ll be both. I’m guessing the team will make multiple moves in an effort to continue the momentum it began to build in the eye-popping 8-0-4 run and get the franchise a little closer to the vision John Davidson and Jarmo Kekalainen have moving forward.