Three Things: Laine Excites, Defense is Lacking and Overtime Deployment

By Sam Blazer on February 23, 2021 at 9:59 pm
Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Joonas Korpisalo (70) makes a save against the Chicago Blackhawks during the second period at Nationwide Arena.
Russell LaBounty - USA Today Sports

The Blue Jackets kept taking one step forward and two steps back against the Chicago Blackhawks. They could not string together good play consistently and it cost them once again playing in a hole for nearly the entire night. They would fall to their Windy City rivals in the shootout, 6-5.

The loss to the Blackhawks raises questions about where the season is headed and how they can possibly climb out of the bottom of the standings.

Here are your three things:

Mr. Laine, You're Our Only Hope

Frankly, the Blue Jackets looked out of sorts all night, and the only two players to really stand out were forward Patrik Laine and Oliver Bjorkstrand. As is custom for the player, Laine scored on the power play. He was able to fill the net twice on the evening and showed why the difference-maker was so highly coveted. He also was one of the only players on the evening to have a positive 5v5 shot differential.

It also showed just how odd the play is for the team this season. They are relying on the power play to bail them out which has never been the strategy and they are also trying to outscore teams along the way. It is a recipe for disaster and the Blue Jackets have been walking that tight rope for a while. They found out again how dangerous of a game it is to play.

Defense Optional

Stop me if you have heard this one before. The Blue Jackets were weak defensively and it cost them the game. It was another game where they couldn't leave their own zone efficiently and had a lot of issues with coverage. Only a couple of players saw significant ice time tonight and the time on ice was continually cut when mistakes were made. It led to a unit that was disjointed and often times haphazard.

It begs the questions about what is happening to this team. A defense-focused coach is not getting the best out of this unit. Is it Covid? Is it defensive departures? Lack of forward support down low? The answers haven't been found yet and when they finally do, that is when the season will turn around. Still a pretty big ask considering the play this season.

Making Sense Of The Extra Frame

When there is more ice to play, it would only make sense to get the most offensive lineup out on the ice for the team. So why exactly are they starting that extra frame with Nick Foligno and Cam Atkinson as one of their first units? Patrik Laine and Oliver Bjorkstrand got you to that point. Why not ride them until they can't help you out anymore?

Those players saw plenty of ice all night long but it just makes it confusing when you're trying to overthink an offensive frame like overtime. The thought was there for the shootout as the goal scorers were given the opportunity to showcase their skills. As is the case on many nights with the Blue Jackets, making sense of deployment can be a fools' errand.

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