Will getting owned at home by the last place team in the standings finally wake up the slumbering Columbus Blue Jackets? For their sake, they better hope so.
Despite making a game of it in the third period, the Blue Jackets arrived late and eventually lost an embarrassing 5-3 game to the Detroit Red Wings. The loss does still leave the team at 6-5 going into their annual trip to California.
Outside of a performance or two here and there (I’m looking at you Pierre-Luc Dubois and Josh Anderson), being 6-5 is about the only good news the Blue Jackets have because the rest of their game right now stinks and show no immediate signs of recovery.
New Season, Same Old Issues
Players that need to perform aren’t. Games are out of hand early because they don’t show up on time. They also consistently lose special teams. Tuesday night, they allowed the Red Wings to convert on the power play and while shorthanded. At the same time, Columbus went a perfect 0/5 on their power play. All told, they have just one power-play goal at home all season.
The result? During their most recent stretch which included mostly home games, they went just 2-3 at home against teams they should beat. The Blue Jackets lost 4-1 to both Chicago and Arizona while losing 5-3 to Detroit. They’ve also allowed at least three goals against in eight consecutive games? That once strong defense at the moment is nothing more than Swiss cheese. There are holes everywhere.
Here’s my issue. Does this sound familiar to you, Blue Jacket fan? If you’ve followed the team for any length of time, you know as well as I do that these are the same problems that have plagued them in recent seasons. It’s the same old song and dance for these Blue Jackets.
The interesting thing is that the team knows these are problem areas. They know their starts are bad. They know their special teams are weighing them down. They acknowledge it. That’s great and all. But what’s taking them so long to find solutions to these known problems? That’s the golden question that we and everyone needs to be asking.
Their Special Teams are Baaaaad
Allow me to be blunt with you for a minute. The Blue Jackets power play is extremely boring and mostly unwatchable. They can’t consistently enter the zone and setup. When they do, they aren’t creative. I see the same plays over and over and over. They are not getting results. They didn’t for most of last season especially later in the playoffs and they aren’t now.
There’s no question they have the skill. But when they consistently look as lost as they do, clearly there’s a problem. It falls on the coaches. They must not only utilize the immense talent this team has, but they must find better ways of utilizing their man advantage. They consistently give the same looks and teams know what to expect.
The power play should be a strength of this team with Seth Jones, Zach Werenski, Artemi Panarin and others on the ice at any time. But the game plan and utilization is neutralizing them. That ultimately costs them in the standings. If they’re not careful, it might cost them a heck of a lot more, another missed playoffs.
The penalty kill is no better. Both units are in the bottom-six of the league as of this writing. Allowing three goals every ten chances a man down will cost you games.
A New Month, Different Results?
At this point, the solution has to come from within. The players need to not only own this, but they must find solutions. What’s worrisome is that they haven’t been able to yet on a consistent basis despite saying it has to get better. What makes us believe it will change? Words aren’t enough. Results are what matter.
The Blue Jackets will have good games. The problem is being able to string good games on a consistent basis. They have shown no evidence they can do that yet. Will they eventually? They could, absolutely. But right now, we have the same old song and dance.
Thursday marks the start of a new month. The Blue Jackets have to go into San Jose ready to make a statement. They need to start on time. They need to make special teams a threat to the opposition. They need to tighten up their defense. They need their goaltending to play up to their standards. There’s a lot of time left in the season, but not if you keep shooting yourself in the foot.
Thursday’s game starts at 10:30 P.M. eastern. Let’s see if they can pass their first test of being ready to play from the drop of the puck. If not, things will only go downhill from here and fast.
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 2021-22 season will mark eight seasons with the Hockey Writers. I am also the site’s Credentials Manager.