The Jackets finally delivered a full 60 minute effort, but two key mistakes would be all the talented Edmonton Oilers needed to walk away with a win.
For the first time at home, the Blue Jackets really seemed to be clicking from the drop of the puck, and maintained that pace throughout the game. With the ice tilted in their favor all evening, the club won battles, kept possession, and put rubber on net in a way we've been tantalized with in practice, but hardly saw when it mattered. Even better, the Oilers were on the second night of a back to back and frequently played like it, particularly Ryan Smyth, who spent almost as much time in the penalty box as he did on the ice.
Unfortunately, the difference for 99% of this game was Deban Dubnyk, who was lights out from dawn until dusk, and the other 1% was James Wisniewski.
From a bad turnover to Taylor Hall that would lead to Ales Hemsky's opening goal, missed opportunities on the power play, and difficulties keeping up with the pace of the game, it was fairly clear that despite his brave words and lion heart, Wiz was not truly ready to come back from his frightening injuries. Worse, his inability to keep pace with Sam Gagner late in the game (plus some very bad puck watching by Controlled Chaos #2, Jack Johnson), lead to the Magnus Paajarvi shorthanded goal that would put Edmonton back in the lead after R.J. Umberger had finally broken his goal scoring drought with a beauty of a wrister midway through the third period.
It's disheartening, and the fact that Wiz left the ice in the final minutes of the game with what Jeff Rimmer called "a return of concussion like symptoms" during the broadcast is really frightening. Either Wiz mislead team doctors about the state of his health, or he came back while still in a very risky state. Rushing him back just to lose him again for weeks, possibly even months, is criminal, and if Wiz tried to force himself back, I applaud his courage, but cannot begin to explain how much I damn his lack of good sense. This club needs you at 100%, not pushing yourself into re-injury.
Edit: The team has stated that the play by play was incorrect - Wiz did not experience a relapse, and he is practicing with the team today with an intention of playing against San Jose.
C'mon man. You got a baby on the way. Think of your teammates and think of your kid. Get healthy. Don't even think about pushing yourself back if you're not really ready.
Anyhow. Yeah. 40 shots. One went in. Doing everything they were supposed to do and not getting rewarded.
Sometimes, life just ain't fair. Games like this suck to watch. I can't imagine how bad they feel as a player.
Final Score: Oilers 3 - Jackets 1
- Deban Dubnyk - Seriously, Jesus Christ, what did you feed him this morning and can we get some of it?
- R.J. Umberger - Good to see R.J. finally break the seal. Here's hoping it leads to four or five more soon.
- Artem Anisimov - Five shots on goal, plus winning 70% of his draws, and some excellent work at both ends of the ice. The only thing he didn't do, like others, was score.
- Team Effort - Finally, truly, a 60 minute game. Please, more like these. More like these and the wins will come.
Bottom Of The Barrel:
- James Wisniewski - As discussed, you did a brave thing. You also did several very stupid things, and it cost the team tonight.
- Jack Johnson - Let's forget, temporarily, about blowing the coverage on the Paajarvi goal. You had two, maybe three open nets that you ENTIRELY whiffed on. C'mon, man.
- Power Play - 0 for 7? Ow. I mean, yeah, 15 shots, but...ow.
Tomorrow, the Jackets will have to shrug it off and go for it again, as the San Jose Sharks are here to wrap up this home stand. On the plus side, they're having even more problems scoring than we are. On the down side, they have Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Joe Pavelski.
Chin up. It could be worse. Today was a heartbreaking, frustrating, pass me the vodka and leave the bottle kind of game. But at least we didn't blow the tie game with 4.5 seconds left.