Time for a quick aeronautical lesson: Every aircraft has an airspeed indicator. On that dial, usually in different locations depending on the type of aircraft and how it was constructed, is a bright red peg marked "V-NE".
That stands for "Velocity: Never Exceed". It's the point where, in layman's terms, the power of your engine and the speed your plane is moving at stop holding it aloft in the skies , and start tearing the plane apart in midair. In some cases, it leads to the airflow around the lifting surfaces forcing it into an uncontrollable spin or dive that cannot be recovered. In more dramatic circumstances, it can result in the force of the air currents around the plane tearing the wings clean off.
Either way, pushing past V-NE is the point where nothing you can do will save you.
It's an odd metaphor for a game where Winnipeg put three goals up before the Jackets managed three shots, but on the other hand, this might be the game where, for a lot of reasons, we marked this season as completely lost.
The Jets embarassed Curtis McElhinney in his first start since Sergei Bobrovsky's injury, scoring on their first two shots of the game, and Dustin Byfuglien would tap in a power play goal before the overwhelmed Blue Jackets seemed to realize that they needed to get their butts in gear.
The addition of David Clarkson to the roster off of IR was a (relatively) big deal for the media going into this game, but he made little impact - only Gregory Campbell saw less ice time, and at least Mr. Soup put on a decent showing when he did pugilism against Mark Stuart in an attempt to get some blood pumping on the bench. (For that matter, Campbell also took a game misconduct and Instigator to go with that fighting major - and STILL got more ice time than Davey Clarkman. Let's pause to consider that.)
Thanks to a surge of effort from David Savard, Ryan Johansen, and Boone Jenner, the Jackets prevented a shutout, and a very late second period goal on the power play from Scott Hartnell brought things back to a 3-2 game going into the third period.
It's hard to say the Jackets had earned their chance to win (despite the score the were being outshot 26-12), but they'd at least made it into something that resembled a respectable attempt...and then things went back downhill.
The Jets started the third on a power play after Brandon Dubinsky was called for a trip, and though they did not score with the man advantage, they rode that surge of energy, keeping the pressure on and establishing a forecheck that completely negated any attempts to move the puck through the neutral zone.
When Drew Stafford cleaned up the rebound of a Byfuglien shot to restore Winnipeg's two goal lead, it felt like a nail had been hammered into the coffin, and another would be driven in when Matthew Perrault and Mark Schiefle put on an odd man rush clinic, slicing through the defenders and firing the puck past C-Mac like he was a shooter tutor.
It would take an unexpected (but not unwelcome) connection between Cam Atkinson and Alexander Wennberg to get some life back into the Jackets with a late period goal, and brought the game within tantalizing reach when Cam scored his second of the night with McElhinney off for an extra attacker.
That faint hope came to an end with just over a minute to play, thanks to Blake Wheeler picking Ryan Murray's pocket in the neutral zone and making space until he could find his shot into the empty net, hammering the final nail in that coffin lid down.
There's not much that I can say that we haven't already heard - after some strong efforts, it was a return to play that can be best described as "tepid". It was nice to see Atkinson and Wennberg have a solid game, but I'm not sure anyone on that Visitor's bench really wanted to be there.
I suspect we're going to hear the phrase "gut check" tossed out a lot going into Saturday's game at home against the Islanders.
Maybe they should be trying to find parachutes instead.