There are 82 games in the season...there are 82 games in the season...there are 82 games in the season...
Now that I have that blood pressure-lowering Moment of Zen out of the way, let's proceed. In my opinion, this game was lost on two plays:
The first is the easy one. Derek Mackenzie followed up on an R.J. Umberger shot by slamming the puck in at the corner of the net for an apparent goal. Or was it?
[Special thanks to @RyanReal for his letting me know about the television feed. While it's choppy, it gets the point across pretty clearly.]
After over 10 minutes in the NHL War Room - longer than any period of time I can recall for a single review despite there being only one other game being played at the time (or was it over by then?) - the War Room upheld the obstructed referee's call of a no-goal. Apparently they couldn't actually see the puck.
For that, I award the War Room Nashville's first star of the game. And yes, I think they were very, very wrong. (I'm not the only one.) Because of that alone, this was at worst an overtime game, something that would have had a profoundly more positive impact on the CBJ's playoff chances.
The second play that cost Columbus the game was a glorious breakaway shot in the 2nd (?) period by Jake Voracek that missed a completely wide open net. I don't have video of that shot (shame on NHL VideoCenter for not posting that clip) and am relying on memory, but I believe "missed" means "didn't hit the crossbar or goaltender". Functionally it was a terrific whiff that speaks to my own ice hockey skills - or amazing lack thereof. Such a miss, at such a critical point, in such a big game deserves a scratch ASAP. You just don't miss those shots. Period.
On other fronts:
- Anton Stralman got hurt in the 1st and didn't come back. I may have detected the CBJ blueliners getting a little winded toward the end of the game with no 7th d-man to spell them - but did the quality of defensive play actually drop off? Welcome to the club, Mr. Rivet. Hope you're a quick study. (Actually, this may be a more realistic statement than I had thought. Stralman apparently flew back to Columbus instead of with the team to Vancouver.)
- Jan Hejda had a puck deflect off his face into the goal and was down for a little while. He went off, got stitched up and returned. What a warrior. I know he's an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, but he's a character guy. I really hope Scott Howson can find a way to keep him around (provided he can't find a substantially better option on the market - be it at the deadline or in the offseason).
- Matt Calvert got his 10th goal of the season. Kid does not know how to do anything BUT score. And R.J. Umberger is playing the perfect "big brother" for Calvert. Must be a lot of fun to play on that line.
- I suppose Steve Mason needed a break, but why today? Mathieu Garon was again backup-worthy. He didn't lose the game, but his performance sure wasn't going to win it.
- Despite his bone-breaking, net-tearing shot, Nashville defender Shea Weber proved that he wasn't a sufficient defender to stop Rick Nash in the Moment of Truth without resorting to a penalty. Of course, it's arguable as to whether any NHL defender could stop Rick Nash in the Moment of Truth at this point in Nash's career. With 3:44 left in the game, Weber went to the bin for tripping on Nash. It was a crying shame that the CBJ couldn't muster the power play to make Weber learn that crime doesn't pay. (Oh yeah, Weber apparently started getting frustrated by his inadequacy in the clutch, which kinda boiled over after he took a check - perhaps a board, I'm no expert - from R.J. Umberger. If you want to debate that the tripping call was a precipitating factor, go back and look at Weber's face when he sits down. He's ticked.)
The Blue Jackets weren't going to win every game, granted. But this was an eminently winnable game that, due to the NHL War Room and a missed shot that a midget hockey player would have buried, was given away. Talk about frustrating.
NEXT UP: The road trip continues on Tuesday night at 10PM in Vancouver against the Western Conference-leading Vancouver Canucks and former Blue Jackets Manny Malhotra, Raffi Torres and Aaron Rome.