There was a hockey game last night in Columbus, but you'd be forgiven for already forgetting about it. A 4-0 shutout loss to the Washington Capitals was the cherry on top of a week that saw two blown leads (albeit one that led to an overtime win) and two absolutely abysmal performances in losses for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Luckily for the sake of this piece, that means there is plenty to study for next week. Here's what we learned.
Home Ice Advantage Is a Two-Way Street
Last night’s game had all the makings of the raucous and hostile environment that road teams hate playing in. Saturday night? Check. Sold-out crowd? Check. Playoff rematch? Check.
A few minutes into the game, though, the crowd was firmly out of the game. That’s certainly not the fans’ fault – the team didn’t give them much to cheer for.
The first game in a six-game homestand went about as poorly as it could have. Three bad first period goals for the Capitals zapped any potential momentum from the Blue Jackets, who looked lethargic for much of the night, particularly in their own zone and especially when back-checking.
There are five more games in this homestand – none of which are against teams that could even loosely be considered ‘rivals’ (which, after a playoff collapse, could perhaps be said about Washington). Getting fans to show up is one thing. Getting fans to stay loud and in the game is another one entirely – and the Blue Jackets cannot afford to drop another stinker in this homestand.
Hoodie Torts is the ultimate mood
We thought that #SweaterTorts was going to be the look of the season, but it switched! Say hello to #HoodieTorts, the best look the fashion world has seen since Shabba Ranks.
— 1st Ohio Battery (@1stOhioBattery) December 7, 2018
The Columbus Blue Jackets are obviously 1-0 now when John Tortorella dons the hoodie. He went back to the quarter-zip for the next game, and the Blue Jackets could never quite get anything going.
That said, the quarter zip itself is encouraging because it appears to be his go-to look for now, meaning that the #SweaterTorts feedback may have made its way to the top.
Columbus will weep if he ever goes back to wearing a standard suit behind the bench.
The Defensive Play Is Atrocious
As mentioned above, Columbus was spectacularly bad defensively against Washington, giving up three easy first-period goals and leading Tortorella to mercy-pull Sergei Bobrovsky. That was far from their worst effort of the week, though.
They weren’t great against Philadelphia, either, despite winning – giving up a two-goal lead in that game – and had what may be the worst defensive performance in franchise history on Tuesday against Calgary, losing that game 9-6.
Beyond Cam Atkinson, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Artemi Panarin, none of the Blue Jackets’ forwards are lethal enough offensively to justify being in the lineup if they’re going to play that poorly. Forget talking about the fourth line or the bottom six – all three lines below the top line may need a revamp at this point.
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