The Fuse: No Excuses, the Blue Jackets Need Help From Their Veterans to Close Out Games

By Rob Mixer on December 28, 2017 at 6:00 am
Blue Jackets forward Sonny Milano
Charles Leclaire – USA TODAY Sports

Yeah, that sucked. Still sucks.

Sleeping on it hasn't changed a thing.

The Blue Jackets should have left Pittsburgh last night with two points and the Penguins should have gone back to the 'burbs with a regulation loss. Leading by two with six minutes left, normally you'd paint the Blue Jackets in a pretty good spot – but a perfect storm of weirdness has consumed them and, unfortunately, the result isn't a total shock.

Let's rewind a minute. If you told me before the game that, with the roster missing essentially half of its regulars including its best defenseman, the Blue Jackets would bank a point against a pissed-off Penguins team, I'd begrudgingly accept it. 

Now, that situation doesn't include context. And in this case, the context makes it multiple times worse.

Where do we start? This is some ugly tape.

Holding a 3-1 lead that's anything but a certainty when facing the likes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel, the Blue Jackets got a little greedy shorthanded. Nick Foligno missed the net on a 2-on-1 and the Penguins were off the other way.

It's a play that absolutely MUST be on goal when Crosby, Malkin and Kessel are on the ice. You know what happened after that. Bang, 3-2.

A bad penalty taken by Seth Jones with a 4-2 lead turned into a Malkin power play goal only seconds later. Another puck that leaked through Bobrovsky was swatted home in the crease by Malkin, who eluded the checking of Jack Johnson.

And on the fourth Pittsburgh goal, Foligno and both Columbus defensemen – Johnson and David Savard, got caught below the goal line. It just can't happen. Jake Guentzel was flying solo in front of Bobrovsky and had a lay-up to tie the game. Now, to his credit, Foligno owned it after the game but the Blue Jackets have to be smarter with a lead, especially when they're as shorthanded as they are right now.

"It's obviously a bad coverage," John Tortorella said. "We've got to hold the front of the net...that's where they're going to score."

And then...

"The mistakes weren't made by young players on our team. You're not going to get us talking about being young and injured and stuff like that. We played well enough to win tonight, but we did not make the final plays of the game. It's just a simple coverage and it ends up in the back of our net. We're in full control at the time."

Tortorella didn't seem too concerned about it after the game (which may have been by design), but you know he's simmering under the surface after this one. 


  • Oliver Bjorkstrand is one of the guys the Blue Jackets need to elevate his game. Dan Dukart provides a solid analysis in this piece.
  • Here's a rundown of Blue Jackets prospects Andrew Peeke and Vitaly Abramov, who are representing their countries at the World Junior in Buffalo.
  • Love this SvoNotes from Jeff Svoboda, trying to make sense of the Sonny Milano situation. Highly recommend it.

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