Five Thoughts: Blue Jackets Were Late to the Party in a Sluggish Loss to the St. Louis Blues

By Dan Dukart on October 28, 2017 at 11:23 pm
Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

Playing on back-to-back nights is a reality that every NHL team faces.

On Saturday night at Scottrade Center in St. Louis, the Columbus Blue Jackets looked very much like a team that expunged most of their energy a night ago in a thrilling overtime win. But, as John Tortorella pointed out post-game, their opponent also played the night before. No excuses.

The Blue Jackets never led in the game and though the shots were 42-37, the visiting team never appeared to have a firm grasp on the game. Their start wasn't good enough, and by the time they got traction, they were already down 3-0.

Here are some observations and anecdotes from the Jackets' 4-1 defeat:

Safe is Death? 

Tortorella has made it clear that he wants his defensemen to be aggressive, perhaps even overly aggressive. The theory goes like this: the offense produced by this style will pay off more than it will hurt. Plus, it's a team game, and the forwards will often be able to track back and eliminate any threats. 

Both the first and third St. Louis goals were direct results of defensemen getting caught up in the play.  On the first goal, Zach Werenski pinched late, allowing St. Louis to take off on a 3-on-2. On the third goal, David Savard was a step behind and a 2-on-1 ensued. The NHL is an unforgiving league, and the margin between winning and losing can be a few seemingly innocuous plays. 

Contrasting Fourth Lines 

St. Louis received quite a contribution from its fourth line, to the tune (pun intended) of two goals. Vladimir Sobotka and Kyle Brodziak both found pay dirt, their first and second goals of the season, respectively. 

On the other side of the equation, the Blue Jackets fourth line barely saw the ice. Pierre-Luc Dubois played just 7:20, Zac Dalpe skated for just 5:39, and Milano played just 3:17. Additionally, Milano played only 1:14 in the final two periods combined. Clearly, Tortorella didn't feel that playing his fourth line was a fruitful idea, but using them so seldom – especially in a game that was clearly out of hand by the end of it – is curious.

Allen's Wrench

Sometimes you run into a hot goalie, and tonight, that goalie was wearing the wrong team's jersey. Jake Allen turned aside 36 of 37 shots for a .973% save percentage, and several times stood on his head. It wasn't a pretty game, but the Jackets had plenty of chances to score. Matt Calvert finally solved him in the third period off a sweet dish from Oliver Bjorkstrand, but came away empty aside from that.

Coach's Nightmare

Teams hate giving up goals in the first or last minute of a period. Hockey is a game of momentum swings, and giving a team an opportunity to start or end a period with an edge is a recipe for disaster. 

Sobotka scored at the 19:26 mark of the first period, and although Brodziak's goal wasn't in the first minute, I'm sure Tortorella wasn't thrilled with Edmundson's snipe at the 1:29 mark of the third period, when a goal for the Blue Jackets would've gotten them back in the game.

Go to the Blue

For the third straight game, a goal was scored on a rebound sitting directly under the goaltender. On Wednesday night, Calvert scored from the meat of the crease against the Buffalo Sabres. Last night, Brandon Tanev scored a similar goal against the Blue Jackets, and tonight, Sobotka's goal was a carbon copy. 

You can almost hear Tortorella barking to his team in practice: if you want to score goals, you have to go to the blue (paint). They didn't do enough of that tonight, but St. Louis did.

Follow 1st Ohio BatteryFacebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube