Desultory loss overshadows positives for Blue Jackets
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Just four simple words uttered by Blue Jackets head coach Todd Richards after his team squandered a two-goal lead and lost 3-2 to the Montreal Canadiens summed up this evening.
"This one bothers me," said the frustrated bench boss. "We found a way to lose this game.
The game held promise for the team. They held a 2-0 lead until the 51:30 mark of the game. "Held" may be too strong of a word to describe what transpired on the ice Wednesday night in front of 14,564 fans. In reality, they were clinging to that 2-0 lead until the lack of discipline caught up with them by taking eight peanlties.
What the loss, their third in a row, overshadows are some of the positives that should have come from this game. Once again, goalie Sergei Bobrovsky kept them in this game for a long stretch of time. Bobrovsky was doing ‘Bob’ things, as he is wont to do. To a man, they all felt that they let him down.
"Absolutely, the guy stands on his head," said Scott Hartnell. "He’s making saves and never gave up on a play. We pissed this one away. It’s embarrassing for him, our best player, to leave him out to dry.
"We talked a lot about looking in the mirror and did you leave it all out there? Did you give your ‘all’ for the team? And the majority of us didn’t."
Another bright moment that was overshadowed was that of defenseman Kevin Connauton scoring his fifth goal in the last ten games. He’s recorded 7-4-11 since being claimed off waivers from the Dallas Stars in November. He’s already had a career year, with 41 games still to play.
"It’s not like we’re playing unbelievable," Hartnell said, "but we’re playing good enough to win. But I don’t think that’s good enough on this team. We have to play great, every night. We can’t just play good."
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, there was yet another positive that no one wanted to talk about after finding a way to lose the game. Ryan Johansen notched his 16th goal of the season (16-24-40 in 41 games) and extended his point streak to 11 games.
Nick Foligno registered an assist, stretching his career-high point streak to eight games. He’s 18-23-41 in 40 games this season.
And yet, these accomplishments were thrust into the background by the loss.
"You have some guys putting it on the line," said Richards, "blocking shots. You have a goaltender that’s battling. You see the desperation in our defense because we spent a good part of the second period in our own zone. You have a 2-0 lead with half the game to go. And then take penalties."
Although there were some questionable calls in the game by the officials, Richards felt that most of them were deserved. It was the poor decision-making in taking those penalties that will grind the gears of any coach in the league. And Wednesday night, they let their emotions get the better of them.
With this third loss in a row, the hole that they’ve been trying to claw their way out of just got a bit deeper. They have one more home game on Friday night against the New York Rangers (8-2-0 in their last 10 games) before going on the road for three games prior to the NHL All-Star break.
Sip on the bitterness of defeat for a few hours, and then figure out a way to get back into playing to your identity must be foremost in their minds. They need another eight, nine or ten-game winning streak to get back to where they can see a playoff position. That time starts now.