Islanders-Blue Jackets Preview
The Columbus Blue Jackets’ dismal start is not only the worst in franchise history, it’s beginning to place them among infamous company in the NHL’s annals.
They’ll look to break through for their first victory Tuesday night when they host a New York Islanders team seeking a fourth straight win.
Columbus (0-6-0) is the 13th team in NHL history to not earn a single point through its first six games, getting outscored 30-13. The Blue Jackets are trying to avoid becoming the sixth team ever to lose its first seven games, while the longest losing streak to begin a season is 11 by the 1943-44 New York Rangers, who finished 6-39 with five ties.
The inauspicious start has been especially frustrating given the high expectations for a squad that won 15 of its final 17 games in 2014-15 and acquired Brandon Saad after a 23-goal season for Chicago. Saad has delivered with a team high-tying three goals and the Blue Jackets have outshot opponents 187-178, but it hasn’t resulted in a victory.
"This is getting old … this is getting frustrating," Scott Hartnell, who has two goals and one assist but is a minus-five, told the team’s official website. "I don’t know what else to say. It’s a tough start. It’s embarrassing."
This is an especially crucial opportunity at home for Columbus, considering seven of the next eight games are on the road. The Jackets also dealt with a lengthy skid early on last season, too, dropping nine in a row Oct. 24-Nov. 11.
New York (3-1-1) comes to town with confidence after scoring 14 goals during a three-game winning streak. It had totaled three goals in back-to-back losses to the Blackhawks to begin the season, but John Tavares and Kyle Okposo have combined for 13 points in the victories after recording one in the first two games.
"We know we’re a good team when we play our game and play the way we know how," Okposo told the club’s official website. "We just have to keep it going."
The Islanders would likely prefer to end their habit of starting slow, however. Saturday’s 6-3 win against previously undefeated San Jose came despite trailing at the end of the first period for the fourth time. They outscored the Sharks 3-0 in the third period, improving their margin to plus-six over the final two periods compared to minus-three in the first.
"The first 10 minutes, for whatever reason we haven’t played our style or brand of hockey," coach Jack Capuano said. "I think they’re getting adjusted to it. It’s a little bit different; it’s a little bit more travel for them, but as we go, we’ll monitor."
Jaroslav Halak faced 25 shots against the Sharks in his season debut after being sidelined with an upper-body injury that kept him out for nearly the entire preseason.
Columbus has been shaky in net, giving up at least four goals in each contest, and Sergei Bobrovsky bears much of the blame. Bobrovsky has posted a 5.07 goals-against average and .835 save percentage in five games. He figures to be in goal again after Curtis McElhinney played in Saturday’s 4-1 loss at Chicago.
Tavares has four goals and seven assists in his last six games against the Blue Jackets, who have won seven of the last 10 meetings.