"You ever had one of those wars where everything goes wrong?"
-Cpt. Benjamin "Hawkeye" Pierce, 4077th M.A.S.H.
With just nine games left on the schedule, the Blue Jackets needed to win their final four home games, pick up some wins on the road, and cross fingers if they wanted to break through into the postseason. Starting their stand against a slumping Minnesota Wild team who had dropped three straight seemed like a decent way to get that off on the right foot.
Unfortunately, we don't play these games on paper.
The team came out firing at first, but Nicklas Backstrom was looking incredibly sharp on the rebound from being pulled out of Minnesota's loss to LA on Thursday. Perhaps having that long rest was a major difference, especially since the Jackets were coming into their third game in four nights, but as we said in the game thread, the compressed schedule is nothing new by this point in the season. They had a day off after the game in St. Louis. Players and coaches needed to be prepared for this game, and teams who want to win need to dig deep in situations like this.
Instead, once the initial surge of energy from a strong home crowd faded, the team began to slide backwards, the ice tipping firmly into Minnesota's favor.
By the second period, the club began to lose control, taking a number of lazy penalties, which burned them to the ground.
Blake Comeau took a bad hooking penalty early in the second period, and Ryan Suter would open the scoring when he sent a shot from the top of the zone that slid through the PK and past a screened Sergei Bobrovsky.
Minnesota would take a tripping call within a few minutes of the goal, but the Blue Jackets power play couldn't capitalize, and when Vinny Prospal was forced to hook Charlie Coyle to break up a turnover late in the period, there was a feeling of horrible inevitability.
Coyle would tap in a goal from the side of the net, and even with 20 minutes left in regulation, this game felt over.
I'll be honest - my wife wanted to watch Weird Al on Cupcake Wars, and I didn't feel like there was much to change her mind. I flipped back to see Jason Pominville sealing the game with just under a minute and a half left.
The team spent too much time trying to set up Marian Gaborik, too much time letting the Wild dictate play, and WAY too many one and done attempts on Backstrom instead of working around the net and creating second or third chance opportunities. The power play still looks disjointed, and once again failed to generate any real threat.
It was time for the club to step up, and they fell down instead.
The fans deserved better than this.
Final Score: Wild 3 - Jackets 0
- Marian Gaborik - As I mentioned, I think there as too much effort to set "Gaby" up for a big goal in his first home game, but I can't fault his effort. He skated over 20 minutes, lead the team in shots, and generally looked like he gave a shit.
- Ryan Johansen - He was solid in the faceoff circle, and showed some flashes when paired with Gaborik during some of his PP time. I'd really like to see more of that line.
- Servicemen and Women - This game was the club's military appreciation night. Thank you to all of the currently serving, our veterans, and their families. Your sacrifices honor us all, and we are sincerely grateful.
Bottom of the Barrel:
- Yes. - I don't even know where to start. The lack of energy? The lack of discipline? The lack of puck control? The lack of danger? The lack of scoring? The lack of faceoff wins? The lack of adjustments from the coaching staff? The team didn't just get outworked - they got outplayed, outcoached, and pushed out of their own building. We haven't seen the team put out an effort like this in a long time, and it was not a pleasant sight. Part of having higher expectations is not accepting excuses, either.
The good news, such as it is, is that the Jackets will have until Tuesday to get their shit together. The bad news? They'll be facing a fired up San Jose team who want to show they aren't going to fade in the late season.