Game 12 Recap: Learning Lessons
The Blue Jackets were caught reading their own headlines. Boston made them pay.
When Columbus handed Montreal a 10 - 0 thrashing at Nationwide Arena, the Canadiens' coaching staff said that they "saw it coming", despite the fact that they entered that game unbeaten in regulation time. Much the same is probably being said about the Blue Jackets tonight, after being dealt a good and true 5 - 2 thrashing at the hands of the Boston Bruins — a club that has beaten Columbus by a combined score of 11 - 5 in this young season, and accounted for half of the Blue Jackets' losses.
This one started well enough. Just 2:29 in, Scott Hartnell kept the puck in at the offensive blue line, and dealt it across to the half-wall to Rask's left. Alexander Wennberg stuffed the clearing attempt, then had the vision to immediately shuffle the puck to Nick Foligno, who was just coming on the ice. Foligno took the puck in stride and zipped one into the back of the net for the early lead and his fifth goal of the season -- tied for the team lead. Here ends the highlights.
At the 8:47 mark, Boston worked the puck around the horn against a somewhat indifferent Blue Jackets defense. Torey Krug waited patiently for Sergei Bobrovsky to be screened by skaters both friend and foe, and let loose a point shot, which appeared to carom off of a Blue Jackets defender and into the net. Bobrovsky never had a chance, and the score was tied. It didn't remain that way for long. Just over a minute later, Markus Nutivaara bobbled the puck in his own zone, then compounded the error by blindly flinging the puck toward the general vicinity of the blue line in hopes of gaining an exit. Instead, he found Austin Czarnik, who in turn found Matt Belesky cruising down the middle unscathed, with only Dalton Prout between him and Bobrovsky. No contest, and Belesky did not miss. 2 - 1 Boston.
At the 12:24 mark, Czarnik got one of his own. A stretch pass, combined with missed defensive assignments by Nutivaara and Josh Anderson gave the winger a clear avenue to the back of the net, and this one was beginning to look out of control. As if to prove the point, Boston took only 24 seconds to pot the next one, courtesy of a Tim Schaller roofed backhand that was originally called no goal on the ice, but overturned after review. That goal came after an almost comic sequence where the Blue Jackets managed to kick the puck from the offensive blue line to Bobrovsky's doorstep.
At that juncture, Curtis McElhinney entered the proceedings, but the damage was done. A David Backes goal in the second period off of another defensive zone turnover capped the Bruins' scoring, while a freaky play that saw Sam Gagner lose an offensive zone face off, have the puck kicked around by Boston, and into their own net, with Gagner getting credit for the goal. Maybe they felt sorry for the Blue Jackets.
This was simply a game where nothing was going. After some early pep, Foligno's goal seemed to have a tranquilizing effect. The Blue Jackets stopped skating, started reaching and spent far too much time drifting from zone to zone. The defense was — in a word — putrid. Nutivaara struggled all night, as did Prout. Even the reliable Werenski had some poor decisions and turnovers. The Blue Jackets were officially credited with 17 giveaways, but undoubtedly had more.
This was one of those games that every club is going to have from time to time, so no point trying to over-analyze the causes and effects. The trick is to ensure that this young club can shake it off and get back to playing the solid, structured hockey they had been playing. They got away with some ragged play against Anaheim, but Boston made them pay. Lesson learned? I hope so. Stay tuned.