In the few minutes since the train wreck in Nashville ended, I've been trying to think of a suggestively foul title for this recap. Unfortunately, everything I thought of just wasn't filthy enough to say how I really feel about the Blue Jackets' effort tonight against Nashville. Truth be told, if I used the words that most accurately described how I feel about the game, it's entirely possible that I would be given an indefinite suspension, possibly expulsion, by the management here. So instead, it's a phrase of some biblical merit. A tip of my helmet to The Copper and Blue, where they seem to always have a Bible verse ready for whatever malaise affects the Oilers.
Surprisingly, the Jackets played a good first period. They controlled the puck. They controlled the play in both ends of the ice as well as in the neutral zone. Somewhere it all went wrong. Very wrong. Continue reading at your own peril.
The Jackets came into this game 0-9-5 in their last 14 games in Nashville. Wanting to get off the schneid, the Jackets came out aggressively and R.J. Umberger deflected a Marc Methot slap shot from the blue line at the 37 second mark of the opening stanza. At this point, I discovered that the Jackets were 14-2-0 on the season when they netted the first goal of the game.
Statistic update: Jackets are now 0-10-5 in their last 15 at Bridgestone Arena. Jackets are now 14-3-0 when scoring the first goal of the game this season.
The first period featured good, basic play by the Blue Jackets. Holding their own in their defensive zone, not giving Nashville anything that resembled a quality scoring chance. By the same token, when the Jackets were in the Predators' end, they appeared to play confidently. Umberger and Huselius especially stood out as players who were hustling, giving extra effort.
Chris Clark took the first penalty of the game at the 8:02 mark of the first period. Columbus has shown some progress in their special team play over the past couple of weeks. This was the first chance to see the PK in 2011. Like the other facets of their first period, the Jackets easily killed off the minor to Clark.
Huselius and Nash took off on a nice 2 on 1 in the latter stages of the period. Pekka Rinne was equal to the task. The puck was loose however and went behind the net. While the Predator defense reset, Antoine Vermette joined in the offensive rush, only to be denied once again by Rinne.
Wade Belak of Nashville then took a foolish offensive zone penalty when he committed a near decapitation while camped out in Steve Mason's goal crease. For whatever reason, this penalty kill was where the Predators started to show their first signs of life in the game.
Early in the second period, Shea Weber fired from the blue line. Patric Hornqvist was camped out in front of the net. Although it appeared that Hornqvist redirected the shot, Weber was given credit for his sixth goal of the season at the 2:59 mark of the second period.
The momentum had definitely changed by this point. As a Jackets fan, I was hoping that they would be able to stem the tide and regain the advantage.
Five minutes into the second, and it's become obvious that the Jackets have become spectators. And why not? At this point they were being totally schooled by the Predators. As dominant as the Jackets had been in the first period, one intermission later and the momentum had changed exactly 180 degrees. The play at this point was particularly telling in that the Predators had such a dominant advantage in the Jackets' zone, it appeared as if they were on a power play, even though the teams were skating five aside. Columbus would clear their defensive zone momentarily, but Nashville simply came roaring back again.
David Legwand went to the box to serve two for high sticking. The Blue Jackets power play was non existent. Most of the play during the two minutes was in the neutral zone, finishing with Shea Weber effortlessly clearing the one penetration of the Predators' offensive zone.
Things continued to get worse for Columbus as they didn't even have a shot on goal until the 9:45 mark of the period. Kris Russell and Jan Hejda completely surrendered the defensive zone to Nashville, allowing Nick Spaling to bury one for his second goal of the season at 13:51.
Fedor Tyutin ensured that things would go from bad to worse when he was whistled for one of the weakest holding penalties you'd ever see at 15:49. It was an exasperating call because it certainly could have been overlooked, but the strong crowd reaction may have helped sway the referee's judgment. Just over one minute later, Patric Hornqvist nailed a one timer as he fell to the ice, giving the home team a 3-1 advantage.
The third period featured more of the same. By this time, Nashville was determined not to give the Jackets any opportunity at a comeback. They played a strong defensive third period, with the resolve of a team that wanted this game more than the visitors.
After the game, the Jackets locker room cleared quickly. So quickly, some people on Twitter postulated that the boys hadn't even taken the time to shower. Coach Arniel briefly addressed the media. A couple of quote as heard on Fox Sports Ohio:
They came out with a little more jump than we did.
We ended up in a spectating mode.
Our best people weren't our best people tonight. They cost us a few goals.
Ordinarily these game recaps feature in closing "Standard Bearers" and "Bottom of the Barrel". This being my first opportunity to pat on the back or point the finger, I present the following:
Kristian Huselius-Juice for most of the first two periods was the only Jacket anywhere near the puck on offense.
Marc Methot-One of those nights, where not being the worst earns "Standard Bearer" honors. His assist also brings him to an unfathomable +12 on the season.
Steve Mason-The old hockey joke was that a goalie who was all but abandoned, should sue for non-support. That was pretty much the case for Mase tonight. He showed up to play. Almost nobody else did.
Bottom of the Barrel:
Kris Russell-Gave a clinic on how not to play defense in the National Hockey League. He was a lot like any of the "defensemen" at stick time who just absent mindedly wave their stick on the ice at you while the opponent charges the goal. The team as a whole was really bad tonight. Russell was REALLY BAD.
Almost Everybody Else-That's no cop out. The team, other than the Standard Bearers and with the exception of R.J. Umberger, stunk. This was a bad hockey game. That is not to take anything away from the Predators, but tonight the Blue Jackets made them look like Stanley Cup Champions.
The Jackets return to the ice this Tuesday night at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, AZ when they take on the Phoenix Coyotes. Stay tuned to The Cannon for all the latest news on the Columbus Blue Jackets!