The Blue Jackets have never been 0-4 to start a season in franchise history. Until now.
The Ottawa Senators visited Nationwide Arena and embarrassed the Jackets in what some players were treating as a "must-win game." In short, the defense and goalie Sergei Bobrovsky were awful, while the offense could not capitalize on their chances. It's getting late early in Columbus.
The Jackets actually came out and carried the play in the first period. They drew penalties, won 20 of 26 faceoffs, and piled up 15 shots to Ottawa's 7. With Ryan Johansen in the box for tripping, Brandon Saad was able to draw a hooking penalty on Alex Chiasson.
On the ensuing power play it was fittingly Saad scoring the game's first goal. Very similar to his goal in Buffalo, Saad skated towards the net from the point as the play developed on the opposite side. Foligno fired the puck on net and Saad cleaned up the rebound firing it under Craig Anderson's glove. The CBJ finally had a lead. It was Saad's 3rd goal of the season (all on the power play, which matches his career-high for power play goals in a season) with assists to Foligno and Johansen.
That lead was short lived, though. After the defense failed to gather behind Bobrovsky, the puck came out to Sens defenseman Marc Method at the blueline. The former Jacket fired what appeared to be a harmless slap shot from almost 60 feet away as no Senators were even close to the shooting lane. There was one player in the one - Brandon Saad. The puck deflected off Saad and past Bob to even the score at one apiece.
Less than three minutes later, Columbus gained the lead back as Anderson made a Fleury-esque gaffe behind the net. Ryan Murray dumped in the puck around the boards and Johansen got to it at the same time as a Senators defender. Anderson was out of his net trying to get to the puck but got caught out of position. As he tried to skate backwards into his net, Boone Jenner came from the opposite side and grabbed the puck, eventually jamming it home. The Jackets went into the break with a 2-1 lead, and outside of a fluke bounce, were largely dominating the game.
Less than a minute into the 2nd period, the Jackets got caught with too many on the men ice. On the power play, the Senators reversed the puck and Ryan Murray was forced to challenge the point. After a shot on net, the puck rebounded off of Bobrovsky to his right and Milan Michalek was left all alone to score the equalizer.
In this back and forth affair (for the first half of the game at least) the Jackets would strike back. As the Senators pressed and fired in, the puck rolled all the way out and Cam Atkinson grabbed it and went the other way with Dubinsky. Skating it in for a 2-on-1, Atkinson saucered a cross-ice pass to his reunited centerman. Dubi took the puck and went forehand, then backhand on Anderson and scored to the near side. The Blue Jackets had seemingly weathered the storm and had a 3-2 lead. They would not score again.
This lead also would not lost long as Ottawa responded less than five minutes later. Dalton Prout was apparently clearing the puck harmlessly from the right of Bobrovsky but the puck was blocked by the Senators. Mark Stone took the puck and skated behind the net before deftly sliding a pass behind him to Kyle Turris. He then snapped it home before Bob could have cover the stick-side of the net. Once again the game was tied.
Another defensive blunder would cost the Jackets a few minutes before the period ended. The Jackets could not gather the puck in the corner and eventually Bobby Ryan would get the puck from Erik Karlsson and fire a shot on net. The rebound came to the slot. This is not a broken record - a Sens player, this time Mika Zibanejad, was left completely uncontested to put home the rebound.
The wheels really came off in the final 20 minutes - I don't even know if that is the right phrasing considering Jarmo spoke about things being "off the rails" previously. Just 1:45 into the period, the Sens put down the hammer. Scott Hartnell was ending a shift and simply fell (#HartnellDown) giving Ottawa a 2-1. Jean-Gabriel Pageau skated in and simply beat Bobrovsky from the slot. The Jackets seemed to give up at this point, as Dan mentioned last night that it took nearly 12 minutes to register a shot in the 3rd period.
The team looked lifeless over the final frame - kind of like going through the motions to get off the ice as fast as possible. Meanwhile, Ottawa kept pouring it on. After a questionable (at best) missed tripping call, Foligno lost control of the puck on the way out of the defensive zone. Kyle Turris tapped over the open puck to Mark Stone who fed Mike Hoffman. Hoffman was skating in uncontested from the blue line and fired a snipe past Bob. Woof. 6-3 Senators and there was still more than half the period to go.
Todd Richards eventually pulled Bob after a failed power play, with some five minutes still to go. The spark never lit as Bobby Ryan capped the scoring with an empty-net goal. Gregory Campbell would show *some* life near the end with a fight, most likely to step in for the liberties Mark Borowiecki was taking with Dubinsky.
Final: 7-3 Ottawa Senators
Not much left to say. This is NOT the 15-1-1 team from last year down the stretch. This is NOT the preseason team we saw. Not right now. This franchise has never been 0-4.
I have not seen the advanced stats yet, but this on 40 of 70 faceoffs, outhit the Sens, "only" took three minor penalties, and tallied 40 shots to Ottawa's 28. The Jackets won virtually every statistic but were not even close on the scoreboard. I counted at least two crossbars and a post, so it's not as if they weren't close. Say just one of those crossbars goes in and it's 4-2 at point. But good teams have to overcome those types of things.
-Brandon Saad. Three goals in four games. A power-play roamer. Drawing penalties. Took a stick to the mouth in the first, but stayed in the game.
-Brandon Dubinsky. Finished a 2-on-1 with a pretty backhand. Was a beast in the dot and a pest to many Senators. This seemed like a vintage Dubi game for much of the night.
-I guess the power play. Went 1 of 4 (which actually decreases their percentage).
Bottom of the Barrel
-Bob. Another slow start. A dominating preseason and now he looks horrendous. Inexplicable. Slow to react, rebounds, you name it. He needs to sit and find some confidence somehow.
-The blue line. Just...sigh. Is Cody Goloubef that bad?
-As the losses mount, Todd Richards has to be getting more uncomfortable. How much patience does the front office have?
Toronto comes to town on Friday before the Jackets head to Chicago. If this team is 0-6 by Sunday morning? The panic meter will be off the charts. As for now, it is probably an 8 or so on a scale of 1 to 10. Not much more analysis needed. They're giving up five goals a night. Their best offensive output of three whopping goals was nowhere near close enough. Very little is going right.