Some of the Blue Jackets' glaring issues were, well, glaring tonight.
They're a team with good habits, including their work ethic and their commitment to limiting scoring chances against. And as we know, their goaltending is pretty damn good, too. But when you're icing a team with role players in the top six and as many as eight players who were in the AHL this time a year ago, it's bound to catch up.
With a 37-shot effort and one goal to show for it, it's clear the Blue Jackets sorely lack offensive skill. And it cost them another game tonight. Here are our three things from Columbus' 59th game of the season.
Where For Art Thou, Offense?
Yes, the Blue Jackets scored three times Thursday night in Buffalo – but come on, it's the Sabres. The Rangers are flying high having won four straight and trying to keep their season alive, but the Blue Jackets need a little more energy than they had tonight.
Oliver Bjorkstrand's 19th goal of the season was the only spark provided by the Columbus offense tonight, and it was a fortunate one at that. The puck laid in traffic for Bjorkstrand to find, backhand it, and flip it over/through Alexandar Georgiev to tie the game, 1-1. This came after the Blue Jackets yielded the opening goal only 22 seconds into the game after a lackadaisical shift in their own end.
This was a game the Blue Jackets should've been comfortable in, tied 1-1 going down the stretch. But they didn't generate near enough chances or zone time to fully take control of it.
When you're walking a fine line of 1-1 and 2-2 games all over the place, you can't afford a bench minor in the final minutes of regulation. But that brain fart doomed the Blue Jackets (even if Chris Kreider's go-ahead goal with 3:11 to play wasn't a power play goal); the Rangers wore them down with puck movement and retrievals and finally broke through against a tired group on the ice for Columbus. Kreider sprung free about 12 feet in front of Elvis Merzlikins and had just enough time for a clean look, and a clean shot.
Couple that late-game error with a golden opportunity squandered earlier in the game – a four-minute penalty gifted to the Blue Jackets after Pavel Buchnevich took a penalty and then mouthed off enough to get two additional minutes – and it was a smorgasbord of bad for the home team.
Wrong Streak, Wrong Time
If you'd like some good news, here's this: despite their struggles lately and a four-game losing streak, the Blue Jackets will somehow wake up Saturday morning still in a wild card spot, two points ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes. Columbus is tied on points with the Philadelphia Flyers, and there's a ginormous home-and-home between those two teams on deck later next week.
While the Blue Jackets have bagged points in two of their four straight losses, their flaws are beginning to become warts. The final three minutes tonight were hardly inspiring and it takes an act of Congress for them to score a goal – and if you know anything about Congress, that ain't good.
It's on to Sunday and a road game against the New Jersey Devils. If there was ever a time for the Blue Jackets to screw it on straight...that would be it.