Sunday, March 23, 2014

Not Ready for Prime Time

The Columbus Blue Jackets turned in a listless matinee performance to heavily damage their playoff chances, being shut out by the New York Islanders 2-0.  The playoff teams in the fight are playing good, intense hockey down the stretch, the CBJ are fading.  It's been a long time since they lost two games in a row, and the timing is terrible.  The moribund power play is now in a death spiral. Almost two full minutes of 6 on 4 at the end of the game, and they still really never challenged Nabokov.

How long has it been since a defenseman scored?  I think Prout has the last goal by a defenseman.  Part of the power play problem is that it is predicated on good shots by the defensemen, and teams are just clogging the front of the net and blocking shots.  Our forwards are not dangerous enough on their own to create space, and they end up working the puck around the edges out of the danger zone for the penalty killers.  This is a period where Gaborik could have really helped us, merely by being a threat.  It looks now like Anisimov's burst of scoring after the Olympics WAS related to Gaborik's return, and the extra space he created for Anisimov.  But he's not here anymore.

Nathan Horton has been a non-factor of late.  I don't know if there are lingering issues, or he is struggling fitting his game into how we play (realistically, that shouldn't be a problem), or if he just doesn't have that extra gear this year.

Not a really good afternoon in Blue Jackets land.

Win to get in, tie to get by.

Get shut out while playing a listless game, and watch your playoff chances dwindle rapidly.  This is not a good time to have a rough patch.  Not good at all.  Next game is in Nationwide, a monstrously huge game against Detroit.  Please note the 7:30 start time for our only nationally televised game.


1 comment:

  1. I missed the game due to being out of town (and a couple hundred feet underground, but that's another story). That said, I listened to the Rangers game the other night. It seemed like the CBJ emptied the physical and emotional tank against Nash & Co. When I caught wind that the Islanders game was a Sunday matinee on Lawngeyelund, I cringed. This team needs time to regroup.

    They're not going to get that time. Pretty much between now and the end of the season. If you think this little stretch was tough, wait til Columbus plays 8 in 12 days to close out the season. Brutal. Don't cancel that country club membership yet, boys.

    Offensively, it sounds like Kirk Muller and Carolina did to the Blue Jackets what Mike Babcock and the Red Wings did to Steve Mason back in the 09 playoffs: They rewrote the book on Columbus. Muller put together a killer, stifling scheme that frustrated the hell out of the Blue Jackets and - more or less - exposed the team for not having an offensive Plan B. (Babcock showed the league how to destroy Mason, for what it's worth, and Mason has never been the same.) This development, reinforced by what the Rangers and apparently the Islanders have done, makes me wonder 1) How good of a coach Todd Richards really is and/or 2) How skilled this roster really is. You said it, "Not ready for prime time." I'm still hopeful, but the terrible season-closing schedule and lack of an alternate plan of attack makes me dubious.

    Lastly - and the real reason that I'm writing - Arty. I was listening to Portzline on XM yesterday, and he retreated to the common (and oh so tired) Rick Nash excuse - that Arty is just a streaky guy, and that the goals will come (periodically) in bunches. I'm no hockey expert, but I watched enough after the Olympic break to see that Arty was using Gaborik as a decoy. I expressed my concern about it at the trade deadline and will repeat it now: Arty needs a top caliber running mate.

    Maybe pair him up with Johansen and Horton...something, anything to get him some space out there. Then let Boone, R.J. and Dubinsky go bang around on their shifts. I dunno, time is getting short and the team needs to get desperate quick if they are not already so. If Richards has a better idea, I'd hope he has already tried it.

    I'm not giving up on the team yet. They're clearly better than they have been in recent years. That said, they can't just be the same team that got themselves to this point. They need to be better.


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