Three Takes is a column that explores the world of the Columbus Blue Jackets and offers strong insights into the team and what to watch for. Have a strong take to share? Feel free to leave your comments below or tweet me anytime @THWMark.
Take One: The Blue Jackets Were The Better Team For 57 Minutes
The atmosphere was electric. The scene was set. Nationwide Arena was ready to rock. The Blue Jackets came out and showed us why there was a lot to look forward to this season.
For the first 57 minutes, things were under control. Speed was on full display. You could just tell that there was something different about this team. They even converted on a late power play to take a 2-1 lead with 3:50 remaining. The Blue Jackets seemingly were on their way to a successful start to this new season. Then, in a flash, everything changed.
The Rangers scored three goals in a span of 1:17 to erase their deficit. Although the way the last three minutes went wasn’t what the Blue Jackets had in mind, it doesn’t erase the good things they did earlier in the game from a long-term perspective.
They outshot the Rangers 33-25. They won faceoffs 37-30. They only allowed two power play chances against. They played a fast, physical style of game. Over the course of a long season, that kind of game results in wins more often than not. The Rangers are a very good team. The fact that the Blue Jackets were able to play the first 57 minutes the way they did is encouraging. Now they need to patch up the last three minutes. Speaking of that…
Take Two: Eyebrows Raised On Defense
It’s easy to overreact to one game, especially given how this particular game ended. But in this case, I have raised eyebrows because of the sloppy turnovers that took place. It happened in two key spots in the game, the Rangers first and second goals.
On the first goal, Gregory Campbell turns the puck over in a bad spot, and Mats Zuccarello cashes it in.
On the second goal, Kevin Connauton can’t clear the zone. It’s especially important here given the timing of the turnover. The Blue Jackets just took a 2-1 lead. You have to make sure you clear that puck. Otherwise, it ends up in the back of the net.
While the turnovers concern me, I am not panicking, yet. These mistakes are correctable. But I do pause for a moment. You can play an outstanding game, yet lose. All it takes is one mistake, especially against a good team like the Rangers. This is something that we must watch moving forward, given the questions on defense. If this becomes a trend, then it’s time to worry. But we’re not there yet.
Take Three: Like It Or Not, The Rangers Are Still The Team To Beat
The Rangers showed why they are the reigning President’s Trophy winners. Even though they didn’t play their best game, they found a way to win. That’s what championship teams can do. The Rangers took advantage of their opportunities and cashed them in.
They are the team to beat in the Metropolitan Division. They can beat you in so many ways. Henrik Lundqvist was his outstanding self. The defense was solid. They got timely goals. It’s no wonder why many think the Rangers can get to the Stanley Cup Final.
To be the best, you have to beat the best. The Blue Jackets had their chances to do this. They ultimately fell short. The Blue Jackets must show that they can beat the Rangers if they hope to have any hopes of winning this division. Friday showed us they can beat the Rangers. Now they have to play a complete game.
The good news for the Blue Jackets is that they play the Rangers again on Saturday. If they stop giving away the puck and play like they did the first 57 minutes Friday, the Blue Jackets will split the two-game series. Not a bad way to start the brand new season.
I am a fully credentialed writer who covers the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Monsters and Erie Otters as well as the Ontario Hockey League and NHL Draft. The 2022-23 season will mark nine seasons with the Hockey Writers. I am also the site’s Credentials Manager.