I was only able to catch just a few minutes of actual action, so I can only go off what I've seen on Twitter and the scoresheet. Perhaps that allows me a little necessary distance to discuss this rationally. For had I been in the arena, I probably would get a tad strident. So let's step gently through this minefield and try to understand what happened.
First, Chicago played actual games since last weekend. Columbus didn't. That's an advantage to Chicago, something I heard the players mention after the game on the radio.
We all knew that the defense was going to go through growing pains. The pains will be most evident against the best teams. 40 shots tells me that it was pretty darned painful. (Hopefully Mike Commodore still is feeling upset at having been scratched tonight...but I'm not sure if I can blame him for feeling relieved. Hey, he's not to blame for this one.)
Steve Mason had a .875 save percentage tonight. I'm guessing that the defense wasn't pushing Chicago off to the wings like Arniel and Berry hope to install, but .875 is still inexcusable.
R.J. Umberger and Kristian Huselius scored again. In 3 games, that's 2 for R.J. and 3 for Juice. Seems like those two are getting with the program, but what of the rest of the team? Especially the second line with all of those promising youngsters?
Antoine Vermette and Rick Nash were both -3 on the night, the worst on the team. Psst - those are two of our star players. (Ouch.)
Only Jan Hejda and Marc Methot had more than 20 minutes of time on ice. So I guess we can't use the standard "game fatigue" excuse. And the post-Europe trip fatigue should have passed, right? Right?
In conclusion, let's step back and think big picture. We knew that the CBJ were not going to win every game. We also knew that they were going to have a hard time with elite teams (which makes the Sweden split with San Jose all the more valuable). The Jackets will have to win lots of games against the teams that they SHOULD beat and eek out a few wins against teams like the Sharks and Blackhawks in order to get into the playoffs. All is not lost. I've been saying all along that this season won't come easy, but all is not lost.
Yeah, it's only 1 game in an 82-game season. But did it have to happen in front of a sellout crowd at the home opener?
[UPDATE: Here are Coach Arniel's comments...]