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Recap: Not as bad as the score indicates, but still not good

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A night to forget in Tampa

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Tampa Bay Lightning
BJORKSTRAND
Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

If you didn’t get a chance to watch Saturday night’s game, and were wondering “8-2? Did the Jackets really crap the bed that badly?” No, it was closer than the score looked. But that doesn’t mean it was a game that they had any right to win. Per Corsica Hockey, Tampa won the expected goal battle 2.83-2.16. Too many penalties, turnovers, and a lackluster effort in the third kept the win out of reach.

Before I get into a scoring summary, let’s discuss the elephant in the room: Bob was bad. Some of the goals were not on him, but several were soft goals that he should have stopped. Or at least, there are goals that a Vezina winner needs to stop on a frequent basis. Goals you need to stop if you expect to be paid like the best goalie in the league. Maybe this is just a slump. After all, it’s only his third start of the year. First game since Tuesday. We know Bob is better with more frequent starts. What makes it look worse is his public attitude at the start of camp, and his apparent desire to leave Columbus for more money elsewhere. You’re not going to get Carey Price money playing like this, Bob. Only the actual Carey Price of 2017-2018 gets that luxury. The 8 goals he allowed is the most in his career.

Hell, I don’t expect Joonas Korpisalo to allow that much on a bad night

First Period

The scoring started early, with Tampa lighting the lamp after just one minute. Nikita Kucherov passed from behind the net to Victor Hedman. Alexander Wennberg was guarding him, but couldn’t stop Hedman from shooting, then collecting the rebound and shooting again for the goal.

After a valiant but ultimately fruitless power play for the Blue Jackets, they found the puck in their own zone. Ryan Murray recovered the puck behind the goal line and tried to pass to Pierre-Luc Dubois on the wall. Dubois was tripped by Yanni Gourde, but the refs somehow missed it. Gourde recovered the puck (again, Wennberg was nearby but could not stop it) and centered to Cedric Paquette. It was a straight on shot against Bob, and probably one he could have stopped if he was on top of his game.

Late in the period, the Lightning scored their first power play goal of their season. Mikhail Sergachev fired a shot from the point and Bob jumped to block it, with Ondrej Palat shielding him. Gourde was there again to knock in the rebound.

Second Period

From the start of the second, the ice seemed tilted in the Jackets’ favor. They got much more offensive zone time and a lot more shots on goal. Despite a 4 minute power play, they were not able to score until 8 minutes into the period. Thanks to some great passing, none other than Wennberg was able to get a shot. Yes, Wennberg! I was as shocked as you. Dan Girardi blocked the shot, and it went right back to Wennberg’s stick. He passed across the “royal road” to a waiting Josh Anderson for the one-timer.

Later, my boy BJORKSTRAND cut the lead to one. He came off the bench and battled for the puck along the wall in the offensive zone. After securing the puck, he fired at the net from the left circle. The puck deflected to the right side, and some great hustle put BJORKSTRAND in position to score off his own rebound.

Just when you thought we were on our way to tying it up, a dreaded “final minute of period” goal was allowed. This one was a tough one. Bob was victimized by a puck that pinballed around several Jackets and Lightning in front of the goal. Point got credit for finally getting the puck into the net.

With this goal and the goal that went in with 2 seconds left in the third period, the Blue Jackets have allowed 5 goals in the final 1:30 of a period over the last two games. I wish I could say that was a fluke, but I feel like that has been a weakness of this team since before Torts was hired. It makes me angry.

At even strength, the Jackets led Tampa 12-3 in shots on goal in that period.

Third Period

Point struck again to open the third, with a power play goal. Where the Lightning had a lot of success on the power play was getting crisp passes across the “royal road” (that area between the circles in front of the net) which got Bob out of position laterally. They were 4 for 7 with the man advantage tonight.

I could describe the remaining 3 goals, but why bother? It’s late and I’m tired. They were well played by Tampa and not well defended by Columbus. There seemed to be a bit of quit in the team once it went to 5-2. Heck, it may have been that fourth goal at the end of the second that was the nail in the coffin (along with a Zach Werenski penalty at the end of the period that opened the third with a power play).

Final Thoughts

Is there anything good to take from this game?

Good Thing 1: Anthony Duclair is a good fit on the power play. Set up on the right circle, he showed a knack for feeding the puck inside to his teammates camped out in front of the net. No one was able to get any of those passes into the net, but if he keeps doing that eventually the goals will come.

Good Thing 2: For all the talk about second period woes, the Jackets flipped the script tonight. They were outscored 3-0 in the first and 4-0 in the third but won the second period 2-1. They outshot Tampa 16-5 in that middle frame.

Columbus now gets 4 days without a game before hosting Gritty and the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday. Expect Torts to work the team very hard at practice all week.