This afternoon's game was by know means an ideal libation, rather, it was a complete disaster.
The Jackets entered the game in 10th spot in the East, yet only one point behind the Red Wings for the final wild card spot. The team knew what was at stake, that beating a team far below them in the standings was an absolute must. There's no questioning that. Unfortunately, they just didn't execute.
The biggest change to the lineup was the insertion of R.J. Umberger, after sitting out the previous two games. Some fresh legs were needed thanks to this game being the fourth in six nights. This fact can't be ignored when analyzing this game. The Jackets were tired, whereas the Islanders have been off since Tuesday. That's five days off for those of you keeping score at home. Here's the recipe- you have a tired team desperately chasing down a playoff spot, coming off a deeply emotional loss. On the other side you have a well-rested team with nothing to lose, who'd love a chance to play spoiler, and spoil they did.
The Isles came out very aggressively to start the game. They were playing loose, not forcing a damned thing. The Jackets on the other hand seemed to lack a sense of urgency, and when they had golden opportunities like an early powerplay, they overcomplicated things and failed to put anything together.
Midway through the first, Fedor Tyutin and Cal Clutterbuck were sent off with matching minor penalties. Near the end of four-on-four play, the Isles had the Jackets hemmed in their end. Just as the penalties concluded, the two penalized players skated toward the play. The puck came loose and Clutterbuck found it on his stick, with Tyutin behind him. Clutterbuck wristed the puck past Bobrovsky to give his team the lead.
1-0 Islanders: Clutterbuck - Nielsen, Sundstrom
Though the fourth line was able to put in great work to keep the team's energy level up, the Isles were able to keep the Jackets from building on it.
Remember James Wisniewski's unnecessarily long suspension at the beginning of the 2011/2012 season? It was handed out for what was deemed a dangerous hit on Clutterbuck, then with the Wild. Hockey players don't forget certain things, and in a moment of hilarity this afternoon Wisniewski was killing a penalty, and rather than dump the puck down the ice through one of the many openings, he wound up and blasted the puck in Clutterbuck's direction, successfully dumping the puck and also giving Clutterbuck a reminder of how he cost Wiz a half-million bucks.
The second period saw the Jackets on the kill three times, with one powerplay. The lone powerplay was ugly. The first two penalties were killed, but the Isles were able to convert on their third.
Travis Hamonic, a solid, defense-first defenseman, was allowed to emulate Bobby Orr- rushing from end to end through parted seas, all the way to the Columbus net where he was able to beat Bobrovsky. We'll chalk it up to a miscommunication. That has to be why, right?
Coach Richards swapped Artem Anisimov and Ryan Johansen to start the third period, but the line juggling did nothing to spark the Jackets. Sure, there was some desperation once the clock started to run out, but the Jackets just could not generate any offense.
The Jackets aren't dead yet, but they no longer have any room for games like today, schedule be damned. Playoff schedules are tight as well, so they had better get used to it. Tuesday's game against the Wings is an absolute must-win.
FINAL SCORE: 2-0 Islanders
- The fourth line brought hustle, as always. Kudos.
- Thank goodness for Mr. Bobrovsky
Bottom of the Barrel:
- We need Horton to produce, plain and simple.
- Where's the powerplay?
Check out the advanced stats for this afternoon's game.