Did the Blue Jackets play a better game tonight than they did Tuesday? You could say that. For stretches of this one, they controlled play and created a volume of scoring chances they could only dream of a few weeks ago.
They were dreadful at times Tuesday and scored five times. They were sharp, fast, and dangerous at times tonight and didn't score once. The beautiful game, this is. Chicago's 2-0 win was the first time the Blue Jackets were shut out all season.
Here are tonight's three things from Nationwide Arena.
AN OPPORTUNITY WASTED
The Blue Jackets wrapped up a four-game home stand tonight, one that (coming into it) had the potential to swing their fortunes somewhat in the right direction.
They backpedaled, stumbled, and fell completely flat. Columbus' 1-2-1 mark on this home stand is about the opposite of what they needed, making it more difficult to chip away at the playoff picture. They're falling further behind, and getting only three points out of these four games just isn't good enough.
At 8-8-5 and having lost six of their last 10 games, the Blue Jackets are one of three teams in the Central Division to play 21 games. For context: they're four points behind fourth-place Carolina (25 points) and the Hurricanes have games in hand.
Kevin Stenlund. Oliver Bjorkstrand. Zach Werenski.
In the span of 15 seconds, those three players had the Blue Jackets' best chances of the game, and they all came up empty against Malcolm Subban. Sure, the Blue Jackets were better in this game, they had the puck more, and they made fewer mistakes...but chances are just chances if you don't score.
The Blue Jackets are a team that needs to score more goals. Lately, they have been, but they were hard to come by tonight. Patrik Laine rang the post twice in the first period and had a hot stick, but his teammates couldn't find him on second and third period power play chances.
WELCOME BACK, Z
Werenski is a weapon.
The Blue Jackets look noticeably different–slower, you could say–when he's not in the lineup. Their breakouts are choppier, their flow is disrupted, and things are generally a bigger lift out of their own zone. Werenski's return tonight was a sight for sore eyes, carrying pucks, settling things down and helping the Blue Jackets' struggle-bus breakout get going.
Oh, and he's one of the best offensive defensemen in the NHL. Look at this dazzling pass to Seth Jones for a prime chance.
Needless to say, the Blue Jackets are happy to get Werenski back into their lineup.