Five Thoughts: A Weird One In Columbus, As The Blue Jackets Come Unraveled Late in Loss to Kings

By Kyle Morrison on October 21, 2017 at 11:25 pm
Sonny Milano shoots the puck against the Los Angeles Kings at Nationwide Arena.

USA Today – Aaron Doster

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Well, that was a weird one.

When the Blue Jackets score four goals and have Sergei Bobrovsky in net, it’s a safe assumption that they’re going to win. They should win. But you know what they say about assumptions – sometimes, they’re wrong.

What was supposed to be a top-flight goalie battle between two good teams turned into an offensive shootout, with the Jackets coming out on the short end, 6-4. Here are five things we can take away – positive and negative – from what was a strange game at Nationwide Arena.


POWER PLAY FINALLY BREAKS DROUGHT

Much was made of the 1-for-18 start for the Blue Jackets power play, which had been scoreless since Zach Werenski scored on opening night. Well, that finally changed, and Blue Jackets fans didn’t have to wait long.

Pierre-Luc Dubois drew a penalty early in the first, and captain Nick Foligno shot one past Jonathan Quick just 45 seconds later off a nifty pass from Artemi Panarin.

It was Foligno’s second goal of the season and sixth point. He added an assist later in the game and is scoring at a point-per-game pace. Panarin got his eighth assist on Foligno's goal.

The Blue Jackets weren’t able to convert their next two power plays, mustering three shots on those next two attempts.

THREE MORE DROUGHTS BROKEN

Two players who hadn’t scored yet this season finally broke through, as Matt Calvert and Oliver Bjorkstrand beat Quick in the first period to send the Blue Jackets to intermission with a 3-2 lead. The Jackets didn’t hold that lead, but at the least, two players who need to chip in offensively finally got on the board.

Neither goal was particularly pretty, as both came in-close on rebounds. Calvert’s goal came after a scramble in front. But hey, they still count just the same on the scoresheet.

Sonny Milano's hot start has cooled, but he cashed in for his team-leading fifth goal of the year to make it 4-4. Tortorella talked at length yesterday about the young winger’s recent struggles after a red-hot start, saying his slump was "to be expected." His goal, unlike Bjorkstrand’s and Calvert’s, was a work of art.

BOB NOT HIMSELF

The Blue Jackets escaped Minnesota with a win despite a rough outing for Bobrovsky a few games back, but tonight was a different story. Sure, there was a fluky goal from Drew Doughty that got re-directed twice and appeared to be hit by a high stick, but the first two goals for the Kings tonight are shots Bobrovsky normally would have stopped – especially the Trevor Lewis backhander.

To their credit, the Jackets bounced back and briefly took a lead and then tied it up two more times, but it wasn’t enough, because…

D-ZONE COVERAGE: NOT GREAT!

…the defense didn’t play particularly well in front of Bobrovsky tonight.

Anze Kopitar’s game-winning goal is the most glaring example, but the defense seemed confused by most of what the Kings were doing. In fact, Kopitar’s first goal was another glaring example: they left him wide open in the slot for a one-timer.

Given how well the Kings are playing this season, it would have taken a lot more structure and effort on the defensive end to help out Bobrovsky, and the Jackets didn’t do that.

BOONE IS BACK

We’ll end this with good news: tonight marked the season debut for Boone Jenner, whose presence in the lineup was certainly missed. A chippy, physical player with size and a nose for the net, Jenner adds quite a bit to Tortorella's lineup when healthy, and it certainly appears as if that’s the case right now.

Shelved for the team’s first seven games due to a back injury, Jenner didn’t seem to miss a beat, as Tortorella had him out there for 18:11 tonight, the fourth-highest total among Blue Jackets forwards. He also led the team in both shots and hit and looked like himself, throwing the body on the first shift and not letting up all night.

Despite tonight’s loss, Jenner’s performance – even just his presence in the lineup – is one hell of a silver lining. Barring further injuries, this Blue Jackets lineup is about as balanced as it’s going to be all year.

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