Following a complete collapse and utter demolition at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Columbus Blue Jackets turned around fewer than 24 hours later to take on the Florida Panthers. Heading into the game, Tortorella was a less-than-happy camper. Tortorella called out the top guys on the team, saying he's getting "squat" from them. "I'm going to have to rely on the young kids." This was directed to the offensive side of the game, as he inserted two veterans tonight, Curtis McElhinney in net and Kevin Connauton for Andrew Bodnarchuk. Florida was playing their first game since the break, because of course they were. To the highlights.
Actually, before we get to the highlights, every single fan should listen to what Torts had to say pregame. Tortorella is clearly worried about the lack of leadership and production from the veterans on this team, and is worried that it will stunt the growth of the kids on the team. The link is here, via SoundCloud (with Bob McElligott conducting it):
Alright. To the highlights.
Your CBJ starters: Boone Jenner, William Karlsson, Rene Borque, Fedor Tyutin, Dalton Prout, Curtis McElhinney
Chance for Florida. Aleksander Barkov had his attempt denied by the active stick of Jack Johnson at the 1:00 mark.
Florida dominated possession early in the game. Extended defensive zone presence for the Blue Jackets, who returned to their mantra of clearing the puck, changing, and going back to work on defense.
Panthers goal. After a Reilly Smith shot went off the post, Aaron Ekblad corralled the loose puck and put it past McElhinney at 4:34, who never got a chance to see it. The Blue Jackets had been scrambling in the defensive zone, and the Panthers goal was well deserved.
FIGHT! Gregory Campbell lost decisively to Alex Petrovic at 5:29.
Jackets on the power play! Karlsson drew a tripping penalty from Willie Mitchell at 5:42.
The Blue Jackets did not establish offensive zone possession for literally the entirety of the man advantage. Needless to say, there were no shots on goal (and, 7:58 seconds in, the Jackets still had zero shots on goal for the game).
The best analysis of the first ten minutes of the game is this- Florida outskated Columbus so badly, it appeared the Panthers were on a perpetual power play, despite never having a man advantage.
At 10:06, the Blue Jackets registered their first shot on goal. Spectacular offensive performance thus far from the boys in Union Blue.
Chance for Florida. On an odd man rush, William Karlsson broke up the shot attempt.
Power play for Florida. After a scrum in the crease, David Clarkson took a penalty for roughing at 11:59. He was trying to clear a Panther from the area, but was overaggressive in doing so.
5 on 3 for Florida. 22 seconds into the power play, at 12:21, Cam Atkinson took a penalty for cross checking Brian Campbell.
Matt Calvert, Jack Johnson, and Karlsson did solid work helping out McElhinney, who made 6 saves in the first minute of the 5 on 3.
Jagr hit the post with 8 seconds to go in the advantage, and successfully killed both penalties at 14:21, allowing 9 shots and no goals. At this point, the TV timeout, the Blue Jackets were being outshot 15-1.
Panthers power play. Jack Johnson went off for interference at 15:18.
Ryan Murray and Ryan Johansen have been absolutely non-existent thus far. For that matter, so has Brandon Saad.
The Blue Jackets killed the penalty. Hooray, moral victories. The CBJ didn’t allow a shot on goal.
Panthers goal. Alexsander Barkov buries one at 19:42 off of a faceoff. Assist to Jonathan Huberdeau.
The period ends with Columbus trailing Florida 2-0, and getting outshot 19-1. Columbus took 4 penalties (one fighting major), allowed 19 shots on goal, and maintained literally zero offensive zone pressure. It was a horrible, pathetic display of hockey.
Offensive zone pressure to start the period! That was a welcome change. Unfortunately, it did not translate to shots on goal. Santa won’t bring us everything we want for Christmas, it appears.
A second shot on goal! It only took 23 minutes, but it finally happened!
Columbus, to their credit, came out pressuring to start the second. This, of course, raises the question as to why it took 20 minutes before the team showed any energy or urgency.
BLUE JACKETS GOAL!!! Shock of the night. Brandon Saad, after fetching his own rebound, threw a shot from a very sharp angle, and it bounced in off of Roberto Luongo. Assists to Justin Falk and Kevin Connauton.
Some solid end to end action in the middle of the period, but the Blue Jackets maintained pressure. Solid response from the team after one of the worst periods of the season.
CHANCE! At 9:48, Brandon Saad had a breakaway thanks to his speed, but Luongo got a pad on it. Saad is going to be a good one.
Chance for Florida. On a 2 on 1, Jussi Jokinen sailed his shot wide for Florida at 11:30.
Jackets on the power play! Brandon Saad was hauled down on a breakaway, after being sprung by Tyutin. Dmitry Kulikov went off for hooking at 12:12. It could have been a penalty shot, but no such luck.
Columbus, again, failed to generate any offense with the man advantage. Florida killed the penalty, with no shots on goal.
Panthers on the power play. Scott Hartnell took a penalty for high sticking at 16:31.
5 on 3. Again. The Blue jackets took a bench minor for too many men on the ice. Ryan Murray was caught on the ice at 18:18. The penalty was served by Saad.
The CBJ killed the 13 seconds of 5 on 3 play.
12 of Florida’s 25 shots through 19 minutes of the second period came on the power play. That’s not a recipe for winning hockey games.
The Blue Jackets went to the break trailing 2-1, and Columbus was outshot 27-10 through 2 periods.
Columbus killed the end of the minor penalty to start the third period. Half (14 of 28) of Florida’s shots on goal had come with a man advantage at this point in the game.
Panthers power play. 6th power play (7th penalty) of the night. Ryan Murray went off for hooking Barkov at 3:31.
Jack Johnson and William Karlsson managed to generate a chance with 1:03 left in the penalty, forcing a glove save from Luongo.
Post for Florida. Jussi Jokinen hit the post at 5:15.
The Jackets killed the penalty, allowing 2 while down a man. The CBJ had allowed 16 while down a man to this point in the game.
Panthers goal. Aleksander Barkov picked off a chip from Boone Jenner, who executed a 2 on 1 with Jonathan Huberdeau, and Barkov buried it at 7:23.
Jackets on the power play! Brandon Pirri served a penalty for too many men on the ice just after the goal.
Columbus dodged a bullet on the power play, as they had 6 guys on the ice for an extended period of time, but it went undetected.
Florida killed the power play, allowing 3 shots on goal.
Jackets on the power play! Alexander Wennberg was tripped in the neutral zone by Vincent Trocheck at 11:14.
BLUE JACKETS GOAL!! Cam Atkinson buried a rebound at 11:26. After a shot from Wennberg was steered aside by Luongo, Atkinson put it in the net. Assists went to Ryan Murray and Alexander Wennberg.
Scott Hartnell turned it over in the defensive zone at 15:00, but it comes to nothing.
CHANCE! Atkinson looked goal mouth for Brandon Dubinsky, but could not hammer it home. Credit Luongo, who made an excellent save.
Timeout for Columbus at 18:49.
Curtis McElhinney left the net at 19:02.
Scott Hartnell and Erik Gudbranson took dual roughing minors at 19:04. What a stupid penalty to take.
Of note: Ryan Johansen was not on the ice.
Despite a chance from Wennberg and another from Brandon Dubinsky, the Jackets could not find the equalizer.
Final: Florida Panthers 3, Columbus Blue Jackets 2
*** Brandon Saad
** Jonathan Huberdeau
* Aleksander Barkov
One shot on goal in the first period. One. That is absolutely inexcusable. It’s a shame Torts cannot bench the entire team and bring up the Lake Erie Monsters at this point.
STAY. OUT. OF. THE. BOX.
The inability to clear the defensive zone and convert defensive zone presence to offensive zone pressure is absolutely pathetic. Time after time, the Jackets spend 45 seconds in the defensive zone, clear the puck or turn it over in the neutral zone, and go back to work on defense. This team has issues maintaining possession and stringing together passes. Lack of practice hurts, but somehow, it appears most of the players on this team forgot how to play hockey at various points throughout the season.
#MatthewsWatch: Columbus sits last in the NHL, one point "ahead" Anaheim and two "ahead" of Toronto, both of whom have played 4 fewer games than Columbus.
The Blue Jackets close out 2015 at home on Tuesday night against the Dallas Stars. Faceoff is at 7:00 EST. Maybe 2016 will bring some better fortunes, or Auston Matthews.