There is some good news and some bad news when it comes to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The good news? They get to play their first home game of the season Thursday night against the defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning. The bad news? They’re dealing with the same consistent problem they’ve been dealing with for some time.
Despite some little pockets of good play, the Blue Jackets have just one win in their first four games to show for it. At the heart of the matter is their lack of consistent offense.
The lines have been shuffled more than a standard deck of cards during a poker game. The players are trying to find their way while playing with different teammates throughout the game.
Players will generally tell you that this doesn’t bother them. But there is something about developing chemistry that is important especially later in the season.
But right now? There isn’t much in the way of chemistry for these Blue Jackets. They aren’t playing the way that they know they can play. This was evident in a 3-2 overtime loss Tuesday night.
Inside the Room
John Tortorella’s postgame didn’t last very long. He went to the podium long enough to say that both the Blue Jackets and Red Wings struggled with their offense and that they were sloppy.
This was one night after he admitted that their best game to date was the second game in Nashville, a game that the Blue Jackets lost 5-2. But they had numerous scoring chances.
But you know how this story goes. Despite those numerous chances, the Blue Jackets could not finish. Thus far, it’s cost them important points in the standings.
“We haven’t developed enough. It’s been sloppy,” Tortorella said.
“We’ve got to be better in a lot of areas of our game,” Boone Jenner said.
Considering that season comprises of just 14 four-game segments before the playoffs, the first segment is already over. With just three points out of a possible eight to start and a pair of games against the Lightning up next, this all of a sudden becomes a crucial stretch in their season.
Where’s The Offense?
If the Blue Jackets can’t find their offense in these next two games, they’ll be staring at 1-4-1 and a very tall hill to climb. It’s definitely early still, but the fact that we’re seeing the same issues as before is definitely an eye-brow raiser.
Here’s another eye-brow raiser for you just to put some perspective on the slow offensive start. Seth Jones, Zach Werenski and Cam Atkinson have no points in these first four games. Pierre-Luc Dubois has one point. These are the players that must lead the way in order to generate offense. But it just hasn’t happened for them yet.
Couple that with a power play that has yet to score a goal with the man advantage and you have a recipe for disaster.
Where Do We Go From Here?
That’s the ultimate question. Can these Blue Jackets somehow find the switch to turn their offense on? Perhaps revenge games against the Lightning will bring them some much needed energy. But outside of that, we haven’t seen anything to indicate that a vast turnaround is coming. While we don’t expect it to be this bad all the time, there’s enough of a pattern over time that it wouldn’t be surprising to see continued struggles.
There are some important questions to consider along the lines of where do we go from here? Can Domi and Atkinson find chemistry and jump start their games? How is Dubois handling everything on the inside? Taking it even further, how is Tortorella handling this Dubois situation? The longer the inconsistency goes, the more the questions will start to be asked.
Can Werenski and Jones start to dominate games like they can? The questions are many. The answers for now are few. The Blue Jackets will get their next chance Thursday night to break out of this dry spell. Their search for offense continues. But in this shortened season, time is starting to run out.
The GBU: Games 3 and 4
Good: Alex Texier. He is the one Blue Jacket that is clicking. Although he is still learning the center ice position, he is making an impact at the offensive end. His efforts have him leading the Blue Jackets in scoring. You can just see his confidence grow by the game. He scored a beautiful wrap-around goal Monday that put the Blue Jackets ahead. Then he scored the tying goal on Tuesday by making a simple play: put the puck towards the net. Expect some bumps along the way but with each passing day, he’s showing why the Blue Jackets traded for him on draft day.
Bad: The offense as a whole. Please re-read the above.
Ugly: Some bad bounces. The Blue Jackets were victimized Tuesday by some bad puck luck. Anthony Mantha scored into a wide-open net after the puck deflected off a skate and right to him. Then in overtime, Tyler Bertuzzi scored the winner when the puck bounced off him and in. These bad breaks are magnified when you don’t have enough offense to offset that. These bounces nullified an otherwise decent showing defensively.
The Blue Jackets play their first four home games of the season with a pair each against the Lightning and Panthers. Both Florida teams have a perfect 2-0 record as of this writing. So in one respect, the Blue Jackets are just a point out of first place. But on the other, the Lightning and Panthers have games in hand and could open some separation in the standings during this stretch.