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Recap: I Don’t Know What I Expected

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Dead dove, do not eat

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Columbus Blue Jackets Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

A certain clip from Arrested Development came to mind as I started to write this recap:

Did I somehow expect that the Blue Jackets would play at the top of their game, and score a much-needed victory over the two-time defending Stanley Cup Champions? I guess that was my hope, but I’m enough of a Browns fan to know that it was not a likely outcome.

The Penguins struck early and often. The first two goals were deflections that Sergei Bobrovsky did not have much chance to stop. The last few were goals that he would stop against any non-Pittsburgh opponent. Does he have the yips against this team?

On the other end, Matt Murray had the night off, so Pittsburgh started backup Tristram Shandy Tristan Jarry. I wish I could be excited about facing a back-up goalie, but when was the last time that paid off for Columbus?

There were injuries: Markus Nutivaara was out with an upper body injury. His replacement, Scott Harrington, saw the second Penguin goal deflect off his stick into the net. Dean Kukan left the game in the first period with an injury. Nick Foligno suffered a lower body injury late in the second, returned for one shift in the third, then returned to the locker room for the remainder.

Injuries are not an excuse for the lack of effort and speed tonight. The Jackets led the shot chart tonight, with 37 to Pittsburgh’s 23. At even strength they had 56.38% of shot attempts, and they led in xGF 3.72-3.49 but it never felt like they controlled the game.

In good news, there were two nice plays in the game:

In the first, Artemi Panarin stole the puck at center ice and passed to Cam Atkinson after carrying the puck into the offensive zone. Cam sent it right back to Bread to cut the Penguins lead to 2-1.

In the third, Alexander Wennberg had a nice tap-in:

I’m not giving up on this team, but I’m tired of the struggles. I believe they are capable of playing much better than they have been. I’m worried that they have choked so often that they are digging too great of a hole to climb out of this season. Watching Blue Jackets hockey is something I do for fun, as an escape from struggles in my daily life. So when they fail to play like I know they can, it hurts even more.

Two key road games are on deck this week, at New Jersey on Tuesday and at Philadelphia on Thursday. Which Blue Jacket team will show up?