It was January 21 of this year. The Jackets had just lost to the Jets 4-0 in Winnipeg, and lost goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to a groin injury, after he'd carried them back to near-respectability after a horrendous start. They were riding a 14-6-1 stretch, and sat at 20-21-3 going into that game in Winnipeg; not great, but not out of it by any stretch.
Bob got hurt, the team fell apart, and there was never again hope of the playoffs last season. Including that game, they went on a 6-11-1 plunge without Bob that ended it.
So, yeah, things were understandably bleak looking with the news that Bob--who has been this team's most consistent and good player by FAR since John Tortorella took over--would be out for three weeks. We don't know exactly what happened on Tuesday night, but it's serious enough to warrant a trip to the IR.
And, this team hadn't even gotten back to that near-respectable .500 level.
Something about the parallels with the trip to Winnipeg just made me shake my head. We've seen this movie before.
What it comes down to is this: a lot of guys who aren't playing up to their capabilities need to step up and pick up the huge amount of slack just thrown into the line. From his post-game interviews, it seems Torts is almost pleading with them to do so. Maybe this loss will be a jolt that gets them all going and committed to bringing their top level of focus and energy every night.
Just as likely, this could be the thing that unhinges any semblance of confidence they'd already tried to rebuild after the start to the season.
I don't know which it will be. I am not ready to completely write this group off, but I'm also not ready to believe in them either.
Mostly, what I feel is a sense of burnout. 30 games in. I'm tired of talking about it all, tired of trying to explain it, tired of trying to prognosticate what this group can or will do. At this point, I literally have no idea.
I wonder if the players have any idea. I guess we'll find out.
Lost in all of this is that the Jets aren't exactly setting the world on fire of late, themselves. These two clubs met at the end of October on Halloween, with the Jackets falling to their low watermark (again) of eight games under .500 at 2-10-0. Since then, Columbus is a respectable 9-6-2. The Jets moved to 7-3-1 that night, but since have gone a pretty yucky 6-10-1, including an 0-5-1 stretch in early November. So, there's that, at least.
Columbus Blue Jackets
(11-16-2, 24 Points; 8th division, 16th conference)
|Boone Jenner||Ryan Johansen||Brandon Saad|
|Matt Calvert||Brandon Dubinsky||Cam Atkinson|
|Scott Hartnell||Alexander Wennberg||Nick Foligno|
|William Karlsson||Gregory Campbell||David Clarkson|
|Jack Johnson||David Savard|
|Ryan Murray||Andrew Bodnarchuk|
|Fedor Tyutin||Dalton Prout|
(13-13-2, 28 Points; 6th Division, 9th Conference)
|Andrew Ladd||Bryan Little||Blake Wheeler|
|Matthieu Perreault||Mark Scheifele||Drew Stafford|
|Chris Thorburn||Alex Burmistrov||Nikolaj Ehlers|
|Adam Lowry||Andrew Copp||Anthony Peluso|
|Ben Chiarot||Dustin Byfuglien|
|Tobias Enstrom||Tyler Myers|
|Mark Stuart||Jacob Trouba|