Despite loss, Blue Jackets will see more hugs
After being challenged by team President Brendan Shanahan on Friday morning, the on-again, off-again Toronto Maple Leafs utilized their speed and skill, with a bit of puck luck, to send the Blue Jackets back to Columbus with a loss. Scoring four goals in the first frame, the Maple Leafs made them chase the game, ultimately beating their conference opponents 5-2.
The loss bookended a road trip in which they went a respectable 2-2-0. But it was the 6-3 loss in Arizona to start the trip coupled with Friday night’s 5-2 loss that leaves a sour taste in their mouth and finds them 9 points out of the wild card playoff race.
For a team that has been chasing the standings all season due to injuries (254 man games lost after last night), the Blue Jackets lacked desperation in the way they played the game. Perhaps they were caught looking ahead to the second game of the back-to-back weekend against the New York Islanders. But, it was the collection of errors throughout the game that saw them come away with the loss.
"It was too many unforced errors," said Brandon Dubinsky. "There were too many penalties. Some plays we’ve got to make and execute; we didn’t do it. They have a good hockey team with some high-end skill and they made us pay."
They took four penalties in the first period, as their discipline was not on display as had been in recent games. A delay of game (puck over the glass), too many men on the ice and a needless slashing penalty by Jared Boll on Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier put that lack of discipline on full display.
With just 8 shots on goal in the first period and 4 shots in the second, the Blue Jackets didn’t take advantage of peppering Bernier in hopes of getting multiple chances at clawing their way back into the game.
"We’ve got to find a way to get more pucks to the net," Dubinsky said. "Our defense has to make sure they get it through the first layer and our forwards have to make sure they fight to the net and create those second and third opportunities."
Ryan Johansen scored both of the Blue Jackets goals to extend his goal streak (5 games) and point streak (9 games). He has recorded 15-23-38 on the season in 39 games.
They face the top team in the Metropolitan Division on Saturday as the New York Islanders pay a visit to Columbus. The short turnaround means that they can attempt to put this loss behind them and focus on the game at hand.
Just hours before the puck dropped at the Air Canada Centre, the Blue Jackets announced they had signed a four year contract extension with goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky worth $29.7 million ($7.425 million per year). This makes him the second-highest paid goaltender behind the New York Rangers Henrik Lundqvist.
"I’m really happy about that," Bobrovsky said of the extension. "I’m really happy to stay with the team, with this organization. It’s great to be a Blue Jacket for four more years."
At one point, it was believed that talks between the organization and Bobrovsky would not resume until after the season was completed. With the turmoil going on in the KHL presently, a deal getting done sooner rather than later seemed to be trending.
With the extension, the Blue Jackets locked up another part of their foundation on Friday. This came on the heels of Nick Foligno signing a six-year extension ten days ago. Ryan Johansen was signed to a three-year deal just prior to the season starting and Brandon Dubinsky signed a six-year extension last summer.
The former Vezina Trophy-winner is a big part of the reason the Blue Jackets are sniffing at the playoffs this year. He has a .915 save percentage and 2.80 goals against average this season in 28 games.
"It’s going to be good for my development and good for my family," he said.
As the team grows and gets better, this should translate into more wins. That means more hugs between Bobrovsky and Nick Foligno. And who doesn’t want to see more hugs moving forward?
The Blue Jackets do not have a morning skate scheduled today before the puck drops at 7 p.m. Catch all the action as they take on the New York Islanders beginning at 6:30 p.m. with the FOX Sports Ohio pregame show "Blue Jackets LIVE".