In what was a great measuring stick game, the Columbus Blue Jackets showed they are still have quite a way to go to becoming part of the NHL’s elite. Columbus had the puck for extended periods of this game, but Tampa Bay’s defense and goaltending was strong, preventing any Blue Jackets from getting any chances.
Tampa found a way to win, while the Blue Jackets laid an egg. Here are tonight’s three things.
Welcome to the NHL, Eric Robinson
No, this wasn’t his first game in the NHL, but tonight Robinson had that moment where you realize this is not the same hockey you were playing in the AHL. Mikhail Sergachev made a great move at the blue line and just walked Robinson. Robinson is way out of position and Sergachev is able to walk right in, setting up the Lightning’s first goal.
— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) January 9, 2019
For Robinson there is nothing you can do here; he’s likely never played against a defenseman who can make a move like this. All he can do is learn from that experience.
That second period
After a real lousy first period in which the Blue Jackets had just seven shots and no high danger scoring chances, they rebounded with a tremendous second. The Blue Jackets had the puck for basically the entirety of the period. They had 17 shots in the period – more than Tampa had the entire game to that point. They had 30 shot attempts at 5-on-5 versus just three against, a remarkable 90.91% Corsi, against one of the best teams in the National Hockey League.
Here's the trouble: The Blue Jackets were only able to parlay that possession into three high danger chances and no goals, but nonetheless this was still a very impressive period for Columbus. On the surface, the Jackets might not feel like one of the better teams in the league, but performances like that show that they absolutely can be and they have the capability to not just compete with, but take over games against real good teams.
Still a ways to go
As great as that second period was, there comes a point where you have to put up or shut up. The Blue Jackets got little traction in the dangerous areas of the ice and were unable to score. Tampa, while not playing its best, still found a way to get chances and made the most of those chances. Sergei Bobrovsky started the game off well, but found himself pulled in the third. The Blue Jackets defense didn’t do him any favors and needs to do a better job at preventing those chances – this is what good teams do. Tampa found a way to still get really good chances even when they didn’t have the puck, and prevented chances when they didn’t. They showed why they are one of the best in the league.
The Blue Jackets have a strong team, but it’s nowhere near Tampa at this moment.
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