Three Things: The Defense Stinks (Mostly), And So Does The Effort

By Ed Francis on April 3, 2021 at 10:22 pm
Florida Panthers center Alex Wennberg (21) skates with the puck around Columbus Blue Jackets center Riley Nash (20) during the first period at BB&T Center.
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

At what point does it become a bit predictable?

For any number of reasons, the Columbus Blue Jackets rarely look like the better team on the ice this season. Tonight, it felt a little personal. The Vezina-version of Sergei Bobrovsky was the first star of the game. Alexander Wennberg, ruler of the world, was the second star. The two former Blue Jackets had big nights, as the Florida Panthers win their fifth straight game by defeating Columbus 5-2.

Here are three things from a substandard Saturday night in Sunrise.


A season high 46 shots for the Blue Jackets led to...two goals, one of which came in the final two minutes of what was a three-score game at the time. Bobrovsky was great, but the Blue Jackets had too many chances to score and came up just short because of their own blunders. 

One of those blunders may have been not challenging Florida's first goal of the game. Whether or not it was offsides is still up for debate, but it sure did look that way. It was close enough to be challenged, it wasn't, and it was less than a minute later that Wennberg would make it 2-0 Panthers on his first of three goals on the night.


Mikko Lehtonen is slowly earning himself a regular spot in the lineup. His defense has been steady, and the newly-acquired 27-year-old has shown a bit of drive on the offensive side of the puck, as well.

Lehtonen doesn't pick up a point on Oliver Bjorkstrand's goal, but make no mistake about it: he was a key part of the goal. At 17:21 he's in perfect position to keep the puck in the zone on an attempt by Florida to clear. After getting the puck to Alexandre Texier, he then pulls Florida's Eetu Luostarinen (#27) out of position, which allows Texier to find Michael Del Zotto, and Bjorkstrand would bury it home after Del Zotto's shot deflects off Sergei Bobrovsky's pad. 

If the Blue Jackets continue to fall out of playoff contention, it could open up some minutes for the brass to see what they've got with certain guys - and Lehtonen will very likely be one of them.


The 39 shots allowed by the Blue Jackets defense was tied for the second highest number of shots they've given to the opposition on the season. Elvis Merzlikins was pulled after the second period. Dean Kukan was benched (again). Zach Werenski took a nap on a Panthers breakaway. There was plenty of blame to go around for the Columbus blue line, but it all comes back to effort. 

What was that, Z? You can't just give up in the middl...