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Game #17 Recap: Most players are bad, coaching staff shows they have no answer as Hurricanes score six straight to win 7-3

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Here’s what happened.

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Carolina Hurricanes James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The Columbus Blue Jackets traveled to take on the Carolina Hurricanes for a rare single game set this season. The Blue Jackets, fresh off a devastating overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks that saw Nick Foligno with a bad giveaway, had some lineup changes to get guys healthy and bring some fresh looks into the lineup. Gabriel Carlsson was sent to the taxi squad after clearing waivers, clearing the way for Stefan Matteau to make his season debut.

Matteau went in for Mikhail Grigorenko. Zach Werenski was pulled so that he could continue to get healthy, according to the coach. Joonas Korpisalo got the start for Columbus in net.

Here’s what happened.

First Period

The NHL’s first star the week got the Blue Jackets going early. Patrik Laine took a shot that deflected off of Dougie Hamilton’s backside and it fell kindly to Cam Atkinson who buried the rebound just 26 seconds into the game. A nice play by Jack Roslovic kept the puck in the zone and led to that opener.

Columbus goal (1-0): Atkinson from Laine and Roslovic, 0:24

Just over a minute later, Korpisalo came up with a huge save on Teuvo Teravainen to keep Columbus in the lead after a turnover and a few miscues in the defensive zone as Del Zotto got his pocket picked. Action packed start to this one.

Boone Jenner? Boone! After a Nick Foligno pass across the goal mouth, Jenner was able to tap it home for his fifth of the year just six minutes into the game.

Columbus goal (2-0): Jenner from Foligno, 5:55

After another bad turnover in the defensive zone, David Savard threw a pass straight to Sebastian Aho. Savard found Aho, who neatly put the puck behind Korpisalo. Columbus challenged for offside, and won the challenge.

Editorializing: I hate this rule. The offside happened 45 seconds before the goal. A clear and obvious change of possession should negate offside. (I mean, ban replay in general, but still). This is not the intent of the rule. Come on here, even though it’s helping Columbus, this is so dumb. David Savard’s moron play resulted in the goal, not the offside. The process is the concern, not the result.

Regardless, Columbus maintained their two goal lead. David Savard avoided being credited with an assist on the Carolina goal. Torts immediately put Savard back out there though, highlighting his hypocrisy - if that was Peeke or Kukan, they’d be stapled to the bench and scratched the next game, and we all know it.

Anyway. Eventful opening ten minutes, huh?

Carolina spent the next several minutes pressuring the Jackets, trying to claw their way back in the game. With 6:46 remaining, Sebastian Aho delivered their sought-after opener. Aho fired a wrister from the top of the circle as the defense had collapsed on a cycle and rang it off the post into the net, halving the deficit with his fourth of the year.

Carolina goal (2-1): Aho from Slavin and McGinn, 13:14

With 6:10 to go, Jordan Staal took an interference penalty, giving Columbus the first power play of the night. Columbus took their time trying to find any sort of offense with the man advantage before suddenly finding a lot. A Jenner rebound came to Kevin Stenlund in the slot and he batted it out of the air baseball-style and into the back of the net, restoring the two goal advantage.

Columbus goal (3-1): Stenlund from Bjorkstrand and Del Zotto, 15:53

With 2:30 to go, Jake Gardiner hit the goal post from the high slot, again beating the Columbus defense and goalkeeper but a friendly bounce kept the Jackets with a two goal advantage. With 1:28 remaining in the period, Carolina’s pressure was again rewarded. Warren Foegele found Jordan Staal cutting to the front of the net, and Staal buried the puck behind Korpisalo after beating Stenlund to the front of the net, cutting the deficit to one. A failed clearance led to a play from behind the Columbus net, and we had our fifth goal in 20 minutes.

Carolina goal (3-2): Staal from Foegele and Bean, 18:32

Whew. Columbus led 3-2 after one, shots favored Columbus 15-12. Six goals in the period, five of the counted.

Second Period

Carolina continued their push into the second period, equalizing the game finally with 1:29 gone. Brock McGinn was able bury a puck after Michael Del Zotto turned the puck over deep in the zone, Aho forced it and passed it to Teravainen who found McGinn in front for the tap in.

Carolina goal: McGinn from Teravainen and Aho, 1:29

On the next shift, Carolina took the lead with the same crew. David Savard lost a battle in front of the net and Teravainen buried it.

Carolina goal: Teravainen from McGinn and Gardiner, 1:55

Columbus blew a 3-1 lead. Great job, guys. Two goals allowed in 27 seconds.

After some up and down play, Columbus earned a power play with 11:45 remaining in the second. Naturally, nothing came of it as the Blue Jackets went shotless with the man advantage. The best chance for either team on the power play was a Jordan Martinook breakaway that Korpisalo was able to steer aside.

The teams continued to trade possessions but no real dangerous chances after the power play, but neither team found another goal.

Cam had a chance late in one of his rare 5v5 shifts with five minutes to go in the period, but he was denied by Reimer. A Seth Jones shot was turned aside by Reimer with 3:39 remaining before another Jones shot was gloved with 3:27 to go. Dean Kukan took a penalty with 1:27 for holding, giving Carolina their first power play of the night. Naturally, they took advantage as Carolina was able to cross the zone twice. A breakdown in close led to Nino Niederreiter burying a puck from the top of the crease.

Carolina goal (3-5): Niederreiter from Teravainen and Necas, 19:12

Columbus needed to go in and regroup. That was an absolutely horrific period. Pick an adjective, curse word, whatever - it fit. Columbus was flat out terrible in that period. Got their doors blown off, teeth kicked in, were out-hustled, out-chanced, out-hustled. Absolutely no excuses for whatever that was.

Third Period

Elvis entered the building - Merzlikins came out to start the third, part relief for Korpisalo and part to try to spark the team to play better. Korpisalo wasn’t the reason for the five goals allowed - he got NO help - but they all count against him, unfortunately.

The teams traded possession and chances through the first five minutes, but neither team truly threatened to find the back of the net. Columbus earned a power play with Jordan Martinook hooking Alexandre Texier with 12:38 remaining. They did nothing with it - Nick Foligno lost possession trying to orchestrate below the goal line like he was Wayne Gretzky and Columbus never re-established control.

Carolina appeared to take a 6-3 just after the power play ended. Jake Bean took a shot from distance that Brock McGinn tipped in front and beat Merzlikins on a chance that he had no shot at saving. Columbus challenged another goal for offside, but the goal counted. Nothing Elvis could do there.

Carolina goal (3-6): McGinn from Bean and Teravainen, 11:35

Carolina also went on the power play as a result of the failed challenge for Columbus. It took Carolina no time to capitalize as Vincent Trocheck scored.

Carolina goal (3-7): Trocheck From Svechnikov, 11:54

YOUR WRITER IS CHECKING OUT HERE, IF THE TEAM AIN’T PLAYING, WHY SHOULD HE WORK HARD ON THEIR BEHALF

Final

Columbus Blue Jackets 3 Carolina Hurricanes 7

Final Thoughts

Ban replay. The NHL’s replay system is so exceptionally stupid. That goal shouldn’t have been overturned, even if it helps Columbus and can be chalked up to a makeup call. Process matters, and the NHL’s process sucks.

There is no excuse for David Savard’s poor play anymore, much less for him not getting a timeout on the bench like other guys do. Either players are held accountable or they’re not. Dean Kukan was sat for the better part of two periods and then scratched for a mistake, David Savard didn’t miss a shift. Torts has mentioned the locker room being “disjointed” and then continues to dole out punishments unfairly seemingly based on tenure. David Savard has been glaringly bad for awhile now, and he could use a seat in the press box when Zach Werenski comes back, if only from an accountability standpoint.

Presented without comment (Also, shoutout to the absolutely wonderful Alison Lukan):

This team is horrific in its own zone. Just absolutely brutal. Two Michael Del Zotto turnover led directly to two Carolina goals, David Savard was absolutely brutal, ceding turnovers and possession. Forwards refused to back check or provide outlets for buried defensemen, leaving them out to dry on occasion after occasion.

Frankly, the team is a mess all over the ice. Guys aren’t communicating, players are playing an exceptionally individual style, hanging one another out to dry, not to mention the goaltender. There’s no continuity in forward lines, no consistently in how guys are deployed or what roles players are expected to have, no chemistry on a period-to-period basis. How is any team supposed to function in that type of environment? It’s very clear that the coaching staff is throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks at this point and, when all else fails, relying on the crutches from successful teams circa 2017 to try to recapture some of the old magic. That is no longer good enough, and if that is the best solution the coaching staff has, it’s time for some fresh ideas from a fresh coaching staff.

I don’t care how many goals he’s on the ice for, under no circumstances should Oliver Bjorkstrand be in a heated time on ice race with Stefan Matteau. Ever. In a game with lots of goals being served up, with an opposing netminder who coughed up a few, play the guy with a top two shot on the roster. Just play him. Come on. This isn’t rocket science.

Did I mention “bench Savard”? Bench Savard.

There’s no excuse for what you’re looking at there. That’s the entire issue with this club, in one photo. They cannot play well in the defensive zone, are allowing too many chances from critical areas, and are allowing shots that the goaltending has no chance to take care of barring “an athletic miracle” happening. The lack of urgency, utter failures to clear the puck, and general disorganization on defense HAVE to be sorted out. The coaching staff has had ample opportunity but haven’t been able to find a way to create a system, instead relying on old crutches.

32 goals allowed in 7 games this month.


EXTRA FINAL THOUGHT

There is no excuse for what we saw tonight. The players have clearly checked out on the coaching staff, the coaching staff has no answers and no ability to get the players to play for themselves or one another, and juggling fourth liners while playing Foligno and Jenner big minutes won’t get it done.

There have to be changes.

John Tortorella has lost the room. I’m comfortable saying it. Per Jeff Svoboda (@JacketsInsider) this is the third time this month the team has allowed six goals, first time allowing seven. You can only have so many “burn the tape” games. Perhaps the coaching staff should’ve taken lessons from some of those prior ones. Instead, they trot out lineups from 2016 and cliches from 1996, thinking those are winning moves in the NHL in 2021. They’re not. Plain and simple. There is no excuse for the continued lack of adjustments, lack of consistency, continued night to night bullshit we watch from this team.

Every single game looks the same - the players score some goals on individual incredible efforts. They collapse in the defensive zone, often due to a lack of communication. They either squeak a point or they don’t, but it often feels like they left more on the table because of a relative lack of talent on the ice.

It’s all the same. “Blending the lines” has become code for “real adjustments.” “Benching a guy” has taken over for “development and teaching.” On a night where Reimer looked awful holding the puck, Oliver Bjorkstrand played five minutes less than Nick Foligno. Let me state clearly, for the record:

NICK FOLIGNO SHOULD NEVER PLAY 18 MINUTES OF HOCKEY IN A NIGHT AGAIN.

Nothing will change while this coaching staff is here. The team needs someone to save them from themselves. It’s already approaching sunset for the playoffs this year, with next year (and many contracts) hanging in the balance.

Does ANYONE trust Tortorella to be the guy at this point? Management and front office included? If not, why is he still here?


Up Next

The Columbus Blue Jackets return home for a two game set against the Nashville Predators. The next faceoff is scheduled for Thursday, Feburary 18 at 7:00 EST.

Let’s see if anything changes for this club. I’m not a betting man, but if I had to put money down, I know where I’d put it.