The Columbus Blue Jackets find themselves on a five-game losing streak. Even though the team has been struggling, many of these games were close.
The difference has been simple – they had missed too many opportunities and made too many mistakes when it mattered. This piece will dive into some examples of those miscues and examine what it means for the Blue Jackets.
The Blue Jackets Come Back and Can’t Finish
Last Tuesday (Feb. 23), the Blue Jackets found themselves in a high-scoring game with the Chicago Blackhawks. Columbus lost the game 6-5 in a shootout.
The Blackhawks jumped to an early 2-0 lead. Both goals were off Blue Jacket miscues. The first was a power-play goal scored by Carl Soderberg after Blue Jackets’ center Kevin Stenlund was sent to the box for high sticking.
Patrick Kane scored the second goal. It started when Blue Jackets center Max Domi turned the puck over as he exited the defensive zone. The puck found Mattias Janmark, who pushed the puck ahead to Pius Suter. Suter passed it across the crease to Kane, who buried the easy goal.
The Blue Jackets fought their way back into the game, tying it at five and forcing overtime. They outshot the Blackhawks 5-1 in overtime but could not capitalize on their opportunities.
They finally fell in the shootout. Alex DeBrincat beat Blue Jackets’ goaltender Joonas Korpisalo. Columbus could not tie it as Patrik Laine was stopped, and Cam Atkinson and Jack Roslovic had the puck roll of their sticks.
The Blue Jackets were lucky to find themselves in this game. They made far too many miscues to start and could not get their opportunities to fall.
Too Many Goal Posts for Columbus
Columbus met Chicago once again last Thursday. The Jackets lost 2-0, but they had many opportunities in this one.
The popular miscue for the Blue Jackets in this game was hitting the post. Laine drew iron twice, once on each side of the goal. But no miss was worse than Eric Robinson’s chance that came late in the second period.
Blackhawks goaltender Malcolm Subban found himself out of position without his goal stick on the opposite side of the net from where Robinson was. Robinson got the puck and fired at the wide-open net. He missed and drew iron, and the score remained 0-0.
Patrick Kane finally scored the game-winning goal at the 8:45 mark of the third period. Carl Soderberg then added an empty-net goal a few moments later, giving the Blackhawks the 2-0 win.
The Blue Jackets beat Subban three times and hit the post instead of the net. Kane and the Blackhawks finally capitalized on their chances. Columbus missed their opportunities, and Chicago didn’t. That was the difference in the game.
Penalty Shots and Power Plays Are of Very Little Help
On the five-game skid, the Blue Jackets’ power play has been anything but helpful. The man-advantage has gone 3-for-16 during the streak, or 18.75%. While that is better than what they started with, it still isn’t ideal for a team looking to heat up.
The power play was needed very much this weekend against the Nashville Predators but never showed up. In the first game on Saturday, the Blue Jackets were given three chances at the PP when down 2-1, and they were unable to convert.
Then on Sunday afternoon, they went scoreless on three attempts, all of which came after the team fell behind 2-1. To make matters worse, they were allowed an opportunity on the power play at the 16:46 mark of the third period to tie the game.
Instead of a goal for the Blue Jackets, the Predators were able to get the puck and score a shorthanded goal, putting the game out of reach 3-1.
Penalty shots were also proven to be unhelpful. Oliver Bjorkstrand was hauled down on a breakaway last Tuesday and had a golden opportunity on a penalty shot. Bjrokstrand was unable to capitalize. Kevin Lankinen shut him down on an easy save.
The power play is going to have to find ways to score when the team needs a goal. Penalty shots are more of the same. If not, this team is going to have a lot of problems gaining momentum and finding ways to grind out wins.
What It Means for the Blue Jackets
Frustration is starting to build in for the Blue Jackets. They are on a losing streak and had chances to win most of the games. That makes it even more frustrating for the team.
If the Blue Jackets want to get back on track, they need to cut down on their mistakes (turnovers, missed shots, etc.) and capitalize on their opportunities. If they don’t, their already low (5.9% to be exact) playoff chances will all but evaporate. Time is quickly dwindling quickly.
Cody Chalfan is currently a journalism major at the Ohio State University who grew up in Columbus and loves hockey, especially the Blue Jackets. He is disabled, therefore he is a major advocate for the NHL’s Hockey is for Everyone movement. A piece he wrote focusing on the Blue Jackets’ work on expanding the sport into the local special needs community can be found here. Cody can be contacted via Twitter (@cachalfan) direct message for comments, constructive criticism, or story ideas.