NBA All-Star Game rosters - Columbus Dispatch

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It was Yakupovian effort put forth tonight by the Blue Jackets, who were vaporized 5-0 by the Colorado Avalanche. A crowd of 16,925 chanted "We want Nasher," cheered when Jack Johnson was introduced and was partially blinded by the red light behind Steve Mason's goal.

 Scouts from Bruins, Flyers, Rangers, Devils, Sharks, Penguins and Lightning tracked the play of Rick Nash, Rick Nash, Rick Nash, Sammy Pahlsson, Rick Nash, Sammy Pahlsson and/or R.J. Umberger and Derick Brassard. Play the match game and figure out which scouts were looking at what players. Winner gets 5,000 personal seat licenses.


"I thought we played a really good first period," Jackets interim coach Todd Richards said.


They did. Then, in the last minute of the period, two defensemen (Fedor Tyutin and Nikita Niktin) got caught a little deep on a rush, Colton Gillies missed an open net and hit the crossbar – and an Avalanche forward by the name of David Jones took the big carom, skated over three lines and beat Mason like a rental car. The goal was scored with 26 seconds showing on the clock.


"Things snowballed," Richards said. "They got one, they got two . . ."


Translation: We did not play a really good second or third period.


They did not. Let us go to the cards:


Jones had two goals and an assist, Steve Downie and Gabriel Landeskog each had a goal and an assist and Mike Hunwick had a goal. They all scored at even strength. Mason faced 25 shots and stopped 20. Avs netminder Semyon Varlamov faced 28 shots and stopped all of them. Somewhere, Jeff Carter reached for sun-tan lotion, and it was only SPF 15, as he is serious when it comes to bronzing.


Carter, of course, was traded to the L.A. Kings on Thursday for Jack Johnson and a conditional first-round pick. Johnson went from Port Columbus directly to the arena last night. He appeared on the Jumbotron during a stoppage in play in the third period and received a warm welcome. He talked about how excited he was to join the Jackets, and sounded 100-percent genuine. Once play resumed, Downie scored almost instantly.


(It was Downie's first goal as a Snow Cataclysm. He was acquired on Tuesday from Tampa Bay for Kyle Quincey, who was instantly flipped to the Detroit for a first-round pick and a minor-leaguer. Yzerman!)


At some point later in the third period, Nash left the bench. This caused a twitter on press row. Was this it? Was this his last home game? Was he pulled because a trade had been consummated? Was he off grabbing his carry-on bag, and taking Johnson's taxi on a return trip to Port Columbus?


There was word that he had a "skate issue." Later, Richards indicated that the issue was something else altogether, perhaps even gastro-intestinal.


"My understanding is he wasn't feeling very well," Richards said. "He wasn't feeling good before the game. The trainer came up to me (in the third) and said he needed to get away from the bench for a little bit."


Nash said he was fine. But, then, Nash is not saying much lately outside of "those are just rumors" and "that is just speculation" and "no comment." Can't blame him, either. And why talk about a fleeting gastro-intestinal issue, if that was indeed was the issue? Outside of the odd line brawl and the consistently inconsistent officiating, and the Toronto War Room, the NHL is not Porky's II.


But I digress.


Cam Atkinson was called up earlier in the day, which is a good thing. If the Jackets are "reconditioning" or whatever is they are calling it, it is high time they call up this diminutive hands man who has scored at a wicked pace in the AHL. Shoot, get him up here and stick him on a line with Ryan Johnansen in the middle. Wouldn't that be beneficial for both lads? As far as Johansen goes, why take the No. 4 overall pick in the 2010 draft, a natural center with a copious set of skills, and make him muck it up with limited minutes on the fourth line? Where does that get him? Let him grow. Challenge him, help him, give him minutes – put him together with Atkinson and let them feel their way through February and March.


Let the fans see what they have got here, you know, like Colorado fans are seeing what they have in Landeskog (No. 2 overall in 2011; has 16-20—38 in 62 games; averaging 18:24 of ice time).


Atkinson played on the second line against the Avalanche. Johansen played his third game in a row after a flurry of six healthy scratches in eight games, and he remained stuck on the fourth line.


Richards explained: "The reason I put Cam at right wing (on the second line) was we moved Mark Letestu to the middle. . . . Cam has been in a scoring role and it was an easy fit. . . . I like (Johansen) on a wing. I like where he was at with (Derek) MacKenzie and Colton Gillies. It allows him to play with speed. I like the way they played the last game."


Somebody must grind, eh?


Side dishes


-- After scoring a power-play goal in eight of the previous nine games, the Jackets went 0-for-4 with the man advantage.


-- The Jackets are now 6-23-3 in games where their opponent scores first.


-- Colorado coach Joe Sacco: "When you get off to a tough start like we did, getting that first goal is very important (as is) realizing that points are at a premium right now."


-- Yes, the two points were big for the Avs. They are in 11th place with 66 points. The 10th- and ninth-place teams (LA and Calgary) also have 66 points. The team holding down eighth, Dallas, has 68 points.


--Michael Arace

26 Feb, 2012

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