Thursday, December 9, 2010

Game 27/St. Louis: My Take

The Columbus Blue Jackets traveled to St. Louis, Missouri tonight and lost to the Blues, 4-1, in regulation.

That this loss - the third straight road loss - happened against a team that was reeling from injuries is all the more telling.  This is a team that, despite the shootout win over Dallas and the shootout loss (hello, loser point) against Nashville, is reeling and pretty much devoid of confidence since getting undressed by the Detroit Red Wings in games 21 and 22.  They haven't won in regulation in the past nine games - since November 22.  Sigh.


Most damning is the complete ineffectiveness of the special teams.  Tonight, the CBJ gave up goals on all three St. Louis power plays and simultaneously was a whopping zero for eight on their own power plays.  Where to start?  I'll suggest that Scott Arniel and Bob Boughner (again?) need to go back to the drawing board and try to reconfigure a power play that actually works.  Had they only converted 2 of those 8 power plays, we'd be tied at three and Arniel wouldn't have gone to an empty net with three minutes left.  Then it's off to overtime, perhaps a shootout, and who knows what would happen.

After Arniel and Boughner are done, then Arniel needs to sit down with Brad Berry and figure out some way for the defense to keep the goalies from getting hung out to dry more than a half-dozen times per game.    One could say that Mathieu Garon had a bad game (20 saves on 23 shots is a .870 goals against average - not good at all), but he didn't have half the support that Jaroslav Halak got tonight.  I'm pretty well convinced that both Garon and Mason aren't bad in the least - they're just not getting enough help.  And by "enough," I mean that they're not getting the defensive support that any NHL goalie should reasonably expect.

There's a growing sense in the CBJ fanbase that Scott Howson has to make a personnel move or moves to correct some of the deficiencies on this team.  I was on record with this very opinion as of my take on the Pittsburgh game.  I've also made some suggestions as to a couple directions in which the team might go.  It's becoming brutally clear, however, that whatever moves are made, they had best have a positive effect on special teams.  They're now so bad that the CBJ are losing games outright due to special teams alone.

Before I sign off, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that those eight power plays (including two 5-on-3's) resulted from some sloppy play on the part of the Blues, but also from some impressive goonery.  Derek Dorsett was head-wrestled (head-wrestled?) to the ice by Brad Winchester.  Antoine Vermette's face was rearranged in an Erik Johnson blindside hit that was worthy of a suspension (and the resulting R.J. Umberger fracas).  This is just an ill-tempered team: They got into these situations after taking control of the game on the scoreboard.  Oh well.  Stay classy, St. Louis.

Enough of that, though.  The Blue Jackets have their own problems right now, and it's time to focus on that.  Quickly.  Before the Jackets lose all of the momentum that they built up over the beginning of the season.

NEXT UP: The CBJ host the New York Rangers (17-12-1, 7-3-0 in their last 10) on Saturday night at Nationwide.  I'm intrigued by this one, seeing as Rangers coach John Tortorella used a single timeout in Madison Square Garden against the CBJ to salvage his team's season.  That, and we don't see the Rangers much at all, so I have no idea how we match up.  Probably should keep it all in perspective right now, though, as the matchups are not about the CBJ v. the opposition but the CBJ v. the CBJ until this tailspin ends.

2 comments:

  1. This wasn't a fun one to watch.

    At all.

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  2. With the lack of effort in front of them, these two goalies could be in the net SIDE-BY-SIDE and would be subjected to enough odd-man rushes to still have troube stopping shots. We continue to hear the "play for your teammate" line as a rallying theme, but I see less-and less of it as the team struggles. I would rather see this team play with some HEART!!! With every effort like the st. louis game, they are LOSING any chance of the casual fan being interested enough to "see it live". And I fear they are starting to drive away some of the "hardcore" fans as well, and I count myself in THAT number. A few more games like that and I really won't care when the next game is, I'll be busy that night.

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