Jackets playing better, not good enough to win
Losing stings, not only for the guys on the ice, but for the fans, too.
Thursday night's loss at TD Garden to the Bruins was frustrating. When Columbus is on their game, they're a tough team to play against. It's when they drift away from their system, or make a glaring miscue, that determines the outcome.
This was the second game in a row that the Blue Jackets took to overtime, garnering a point in the process. The fact is that they took last year's Eastern Conference Champs to task, especially in the third frame. "What we have to find in our game," said head coach Todd Richards, "is that 60 minute game, or 58 or 55 minutes. We had a lull where it seemed like it got chaotic."
The third period was 20 minutes of end-to-end action, with both teams trading chances. Columbus controlled much of the play in the final period, reinforcing Boston head coach Claude Julien's remarks about "dismissing their record". He knows that their record isn't indicative of what type of game they can play.
"We came out in the third and executed really well", Todd Richards said. "We didn't get, obviously, the end result. But I think, based on how the third period went, we were carrying the play."
It wasn't through lack of effort that they didn't skate away with two points. They became more physical and controlled the puck within their system. "I think we compete and we try", said Richards. "I think sometimes we get sidetracked within our system and how we need to play."
"At times, we get two running when we shouldn't have two guys running. It's trying to build that trust with each other, out on the ice, knowing that if I execute and do my job that my teammate's going to do his job."
In the second period, Columbus was trailing 2-1 before Nick Foligno gathered in a rebound and backhanded the puck past Boston's backup goalie to tie the game. Foligno, returning to the club after being away for family reasons, was a much needed spark for the team who contributed to them getting the lone point.
"It was nice to get back with the guys and battle for some wins", Foligno said. "That goal was for my daughter, for sure, and all that she's battling right now. It's unfortunate we didn't get the win. That's one thing I wanted more than anything."
Once again, the game came down to one play in overtime. Cam Atkinson, the last player at the top of the zone, took a shot that that bounced off the pads of Boston's Milan Lucic and caromed through the neutral zone. Lucic beat Atkinson to the puck and put it through Bobrovsky's five-hole for the overtime winner.
"It's the bounces of hockey", continued Foligno. "It's part of the game. But, we've got to stay positive in here. I think that frustration is a useless emotion. It's something that we've got to stay tight and we've got to understand that we're going to work this out and make sure we're getting ready for (Friday) night. That's the beauty of this game, too, because you get to play the next night and redeem yourself."
"We played pretty well (against Boston). We played against a really good team and took it right to the end."
They played with an edge to their game in Boston. The passing was crisper, the physicality was there and they were creating turnovers and chances off their forecheck. "When you play with emotion", Foligno said, "It's amazing how you play. I think our team needs to be emotional when we play. You see the guys stepping up making big hits and big plays. It carries throughout the team."
"We did a lot of good things against a good hockey club that plays really well at home. It could have went either way. A lucky bounce at the end and it's a different story. We all have to be proud of the way we played tonight."
There is no substitute for winning and the two points that each win earns. That being said, they are getting back to the style of play that helped propel them to the cusp of making the playoffs one season ago. This game against Boston was one of the better games that they've played this season. There has to be a winner and, unfortunately, the Blue Jackets came up just short of earning two points.
"We battled them hard for just about 65 minutes", said Mark Letestu. "Sometimes it goes that way. Definitely, the effort was positive and we played good enough to win. They just got one more bounce than us."
With the short turnaround between games, they have to put this loss behind them and get themselves ready for a fast Montreal team at Nationwide Arena tonight. "That's what being a professional is all about", Letestu said. You can be disappointed with this one right now but, when we wake up, we've got another job to do and another big team in the East to play."
The visiting Montreal Canadiens are in Columbus for a 7 p.m. tilt.
• Friday night's game between the Blue Jackets and Montreal Canadiens is also FoxSportsOhio.com Digital Night. Viewers will be introduced to the FSO digital team and also be able to ask questions of Jeff Rimer, Bill Davidge and Dan Kamal through the "Ask The Experts" section of the website. The viewers questions will be answered live during the game. Throughout the game, viewers can also interact with the digital team by using the hashtag #FSOCBJ.