With the Jackets sending a roster to Washington that consisted almost entirely of players "on the bubble", tonight's game was going to be a matter of hard work and constant effort to be able to beat a stacked Capitals squad at home.
Unfortunately, while there were some flashes, and a clear effort, it was not nearly enough to overcome the offensive power of a team that's likely to compete not just for the Southeast division title, but the President's Trophy.
As DBJ put it on Twitter: "Home teams don't lose in the pre-season. If they do, something is wrong."
Since, unsuprisingly, most people would rather discuss the James Wisniewski ruling than a preseason game, we'll keep this fairly short and sweet.
In a game where much of the defense was out to earn a job tonight, the results were mixed, at best - while nobody made a brutal gaffe, it felt like the Capitals had a lot of space tonight with the puck, and I didn't feel a strong sense of "challenge" from anyone.
David Savard was a -1 and had a bit of a "bonehead" penalty but he also was playing games on back to back nights and logged over 24 minutes of ice time - it's hard to fault that perfomance.
The forward lines were an equally mixed bag - Derick Brassard had some nice moves but also some mistakes - he's clearly still adjusting to playing on the wing rather than the middle, and the fact that he was responsible for two minors (both for interference, another sign of some defensive misfires in the new position) was a bit disappointing.
Vinny Prospal would score his first of the preseason for the Jackets, stuffing in low on Neuvirth late in the third period after a good setup from Fedor Tyutin, but that would be the only puck to make it through a well motivated goaltender and a very aggressive Washington defense.
Curtis Sanford looked better than his Jackets debut (50% less goals allowed!), but still gave up three, including an ugly one to Cody Eakin, and his rebound control scares me a lot. If my choices for backup are Sanford or York, I'm leaning a lot closer to York at this point.
Final score: Capitals 3 - Jackets 1
- David Savard - As mentioned before, Savard munched a truly insane level of minutes. With Wisniewski suspended he's probably the most likely candidate to step into an elevated role. I could easily see him as a 5/6 d-man.
- Vinny Prospal - Good to see Vinny get his first goal as a Jacket, and it's exactly the kind we've been hoping for from him - nice and dirty around the crease.
- Cam Atkinson - Though held off the score sheet, it wasn't for lack of trying. Cam not only was hustling around the offensive zone all night, he also lead the Jackets in shots on goal.
- Special Teams - Not only did the Jackets' power play look right out of the Bad Old Days, the PK gave up two goals on 5 kills. Not pretty.
- The Young & Restless - I was hoping for someone outside of the "expected' group (Atkinson, Johansen, Savard) to step up in this game, and honestly didn't feel like any of them did.
- Capitals Game Ops - Say what you like about the Blue Jackets in-arena entertainment (or lack thereof), we've never, EVER seen them put Groupon ads on the Jumbotron, and for that, I am grateful.
The Jackets will have a day off to regroup before the Wild come to visit them at Nationwide on Thursday. I would expect to see a number of roster cuts tomorrow to bring the group closer to the opening day roster, and potentially get players down to Springfield before their pre-season opener tomorrow evening.