In a game that was as much a blow to pride as anything else, the Jackets certainly had their chances against Ilya Bryzgalov, but couldn't finish any of them, leaving the Coyotes the victor with a 3-0 shutout.
Was that a bit bland? Perhaps, but so was the game. If you're looking for more vitriol, try Aaron Portzline's take, which should give you your FDA reccomended daily dose of bile.
The Coyotes controlled the game with a very similar approach as the Devils - not a full neutral zone trap, but a lot of play to tie up the puck as much as possible, and to frustrate the team's more mobile offense, then backing that up with denial of shooting lanes and preventing guys like Rick Nash and R.J. Umberger from walking to the net.
Mathieu Garon, on the other hand, couldn't be blamed for the power play goal that opened the scoring, but the second and third goals were frustrating, particularly the middle goal, which came off a late end to end rush where both Garon and the defense seemed to forget that the puck was still live after he made the initial save on Shane Doan, and the final goal was another case of the Jacket's netminder (Mason or Garon) flopping to make one save, then leaving a rebound that he was totally out of position for, and the defense unable to take away from their opposite numbers before someone caused trouble with it.
On the whole, however, I wouldn't actually say the Jackets played poorly - they had 28 shots for the game, despite being shorthanded with frustrating frequency thanks to a....strictly...called game by Stephen Walkom, and I was actually very impressed with how they cycled the puck on several occasions, particularly after Matt Calvert was shifted up to the top line in the second period. The Jackets imply couldn't get anything past one of the best goaltenders in the league. Frustrating, perhaps even humiliating, especially on the heels of their most recent shutouts against Detroit and the Devils, but it is what it is.
If there was a bright spot for Columbus outside of Calvert's temporary elevation (tinged with the stormcloud of Jakub Voracek being dropped to the third line due to what I will politely call having a poor night), it was Jared Boll squaring off with Paul Bissonnette in the first period, in a tilt where Boll took some early blows, but finished the fight with a punishing right hook that put Mr. "BizNasty"down for the count.
The concept of the team "Maxing out" has been brought up before. Perhaps that's exactly what that playoff push in February was, and we're now seeing the results - exhausted mentally and physically.
I dearly hope not, but if it is the case, it at least informs Scott Howson and Scott Arniel of their direction for the offseason.
In the mean time, there are eight games left to play, and we dearly hope the team we love will make an appearance in them.