More matinee hockey for the Blue Jackets! I’m not going to lie, I rather enjoy the early start times. It’s a nice late afternoon event, perfect for sitting on the couch in sweatpants and a comfy shirt with fuzzy socks and relaxing.
The Blue Jackets, 19 hours after thrashing the New Jersey Devils in Columbus, would travel to scenic New Jersey for the second leg of the back to back. Joonas Korpisalo took control of the net from Sergei Bobrovsky. Prior to the game, Coach Tortorella said that he would determine on a game by game basis which of the two would man the net on any given night- there would be no strict rotation system.
Alexander Wennberg would be out with an undisclosed injury, replaced in the lineup by Jared Boll. Torts made no other lineup changes.
FIRST PERIOD- LETHARGY OUT OF THE GATE
Almost out of the gates, the Blue Jackets found themselves trailing. The opening few minutes were controlled in every sense of the word by the New Jersey Devils, and they were rewarded at 4:32. Reid Boucher was able to capitalize on a mixup between Seth Jones and David Savard, and he lifted his shot high over Korpisalo’s glove. 1-0 to the Devils.
The Devils started a goaltender, Scott Wedgewood, who made his NHL debut on the night. For the first ten minutes of the game, the Blue Jackets seemed to staunchly refuse to test the young netminder, generating 1 shot on goal in the first five minutes.
The Blue Jackets managed to draw a power play opportunity late in the period as Oliver Bjorkstrand was held by Mike Sislo, but the best opportunities fell to the Devils after a Seth Jones turnover in the defensive zone. At the end of one, the Devils led the Jackets 1-0. Columbus outshot New Jersey 8-5.
SECOND PERIOD- BOLL!
This really was a snoozer of a game. While both teams generated greater than 20 shots on net, very few could have been considered "dangerous chances." Most efforts were long shots from the point or from the outside of the offensive zones, chances that both netminders turned away with ease.
Most. Not all. At 2:43 of the second period, Jared Boll camped himself to the left of Wedgewood, and deflected a Dalton Prout slapshot past the Devils netminder. 1-1. For Boll, it was his first goal since 2/13/2015, and the relief was visible on his face.
Columbus took the game to New Jersey, controlling much of the possession and the flow of the game, but were unable to capitalize anymore.
David Savard and Dalton Prout both took penalties in the middle of the period, gifting New Jersey with 75 seconds of a two man advantage. On this night, however, the Jackets killers were equal to the task.
THIRD PERIOD- FADING DOWN THE STRETCH
The Blue Jackets had another power play chance early in the third period, but could not convert the man advantage into any real scoring threats.
The next highlight was, unfortunately, it for the game. At 8:34, following a chaotic mess in front of the net, Devante Smith-Pelley was able to tuck home a rebound that sat on the goal line.
Columbus, outside of a half chance from Brandon Saad, would fail to generate a real scoring threat for the rest of the night.
New Jersey Devils 2 Columbus Blue Jackets 1
Play well and lose. Frankly, at this point in the season? I’m okay with it. The Blue Jackets need help. Talented help. That’s not going to come from picking tenth in perpetuity. I saw some good things from some of the younger guys today- Boone Jenner looked like a natural playing back in the middle. Oliver Bjorkstrand belongs on the roster more than some guys who’ve been here for the duration of the season. Brandon Saad is still good, and Seth Jones / Ryan Murray will be fine next season when we actually get them back together next season.
Other than that? I can handle losing. Even losing the rest of the way (save for Thursday- I could use a win that night). But this team needs help, needs talent, needs something to shake up the god awful possession numbers and inability to generate offense outside of a dump and chase, followed by desperate whacks at rebounds. If losing gets us some help sooner, so be it.
Also. Also. I want to specially shoutout Jared Boll for scoring his first of the season today. I have been tougher on the guy than most, but damn if I wasn't THRILLED for him. The joy on his face was palpable, and I'm happy for the man that he got to finally, FINALLY find the back the of the net.
10 games to go in the season, Jackets fans. Buckle up for the ride.