Palpable disappointment vs Colorado
The disappointment was as palpable as a veil over the dressing room following the 3-2 loss in overtime. Although Columbus gained an all-important point as they jockey for a playoff position, this one stung. Colorado scored all three of their goals from deflections off Blue Jackets players. You can distill this loss down to one wordâ¦ ouch.
"We were the best shooters in the game tonight," said Columbus head coach Todd Richards," off our own guy. Three is a lot, and that was all of their goals."
With 16,550 making the trek to the arena (on a Tuesday night and against a Western Conference team, I might add), they witnessed the Blue Jackets hold steady in 8th place (second wildcard) in the Eastern Conference. But, after playing well and controlling the game for stretches, the outcome was deflating. April Foolâs Day was a tad bit cruel.
"Colorado is a very good team," said Richards. "We’ve had success versus other teams, too, not just Colorado. In the first period, we weren’t good, we weren’t bad. We were okay, (but) we weren’t engaged into the game."
Non-crisp passing and a few heavy checks pretty much defined the first period for the Blue Jackets. "Not engaged" is apropos, in this instance.
"There were some players trying (to get in engaged) in the first, but we didnât have enough," Richards said. "The second period, we got more guys involved into the game. We were able to sustain some pressure in their zone and do some good things. Five on five, I thought we played a good game."
"But when three pucks go in off you, it’s deflating. It takes away from a lot of the good things we did in the game."
On a night that saw the return of Jared Boll to the lineup from injury and Sergei Bobrovsky back between the pipes after battling the lingering effects of the flu, having three deflections off your own players is definitely deflating. Notwithstanding the one point they earned, they wanted two.
"We let a 2-0 lead go this late in the season and gave away a point," said Ryan Johansen. "At the end of the day, weâll take a point. But, we should have two."
Sergei Bobrovsky made 25 saves on facing 28 shots. In the first two stanzas, he made some great saves that kept Colorado stymied. The deflections off his teammates can’t really be pinned on him. With typical Russian stoicism, heâll take the one point from this game and begin focusing on the game against division foe Philadelphia on Thursday.
"I thought the guys played a really good game," Bobrovsky said. "They played strong and they worked. Sometimes (deflections) happen. Unfortunately, it happened. There’s nothing you can do about it."
The mantra all season long has been about focusing on the next game. To a man, they’ve all said that the next game is the most important game, which speaks to their collective mindset, as instilled by Todd Richards and the coaching staff.
"We’ve just got to focus, I think, on the next game," he said. "That’s the most important game. We don’t need to think about how tough or short this period is (7 games in 11 days)."
Tomorrow, Columbus travels to the city of brotherly love for a game that will feature, almost assuredly, anything but brotherly love. The Philadelphia Flyers are four points in front of the Blue Jackets and playing well.
"It’s not an easy building to play in (Wells Fargo Center)," Todd Richards said. "We’re going to have to go in and be ready to play. These games like this, the resolve of our group, we’ll find out. But, I trust this group, they’ve done it. We’ve had other disappointing losses throughout the year. This one gets magnified a little bit because of the time of the season and points are critical."
"But, this team has found ways to rebound. We’ll get a great test on Thursday in Philadelphia."
Through all of the ups and downs that this season has wrought upon the Blue Jackets, from injuries to less than stellar play across the board, the one constant has been their ability to push through the adversity and make some form of statement.
The halcyon days of the rollercoaster ride that was the early season are a somewhat distant memory. As they push for their second playoff appearance in franchise history, the meaning of every game and every shift becomes magnified. Do they have the wherewithal to make a play for the post-season?
They have seven games over the next ten days. Seven games in which they can add to the mystique that is a young bunch of mavericks, or seven games in which they can reinforce the perception outside of Ohio that they are merely a collection of upstarts.
Did you imagine, back in October, that the Blue Jackets would be playing meaningful hockey with ten days to go in the regular season? Are you excited yet?