Twice in one season? Better yet...twice in two weeks?
And yet, we're here again.
The Columbus Blue Jackets have been one of the NHL's best regular season teams over the last three seasons. We'll give them some credit for that – but it's far from an accomplishment. It's by no means reason to think they've arrived or become one of the most feared teams in the business.
Sometimes, though, it feels like they think that way.
A couple of weeks ago, they laid an ostrich egg on home ice against the Arizona Coyotes. It was ugly. Alarming, as described by the head coach. Last night, facing the NHL's worst team (and don't give me the "Detroit is playing better" nonsense), the Blue Jackets melted like a microwaved Sno-Cone and they wasted no time doing so.
Early penalty? Check. Flubbed power play leading to a shorthanded goal? Got it. Get a little greedy up the ice and put yourself way behind the 8-ball? Suddenly, it's 3-0 and the Blue Jackets looked like they were still in the warm-up.
Just like the Arizona game, the Blue Jackets didn't seem to take this game seriously until they were almost blown out of it. Once it registered that they were getting smoked by a bad team, they strapped in and put their foot on the gas in the third period. It took them nearly 43 minutes to score a goal on Jimmy Howard, who's not a beer-leaguer by any means, but nothing close to the caliber of the guy who played the final 45-or-so minutes at the other end.
That furious push in the third period is what the majority of the game *should have* looked like. The Blue Jackets are far and away the better team – it's not even close – yet they plodded their way through a sleepwalk-like first period and handed the Red Wings a three-goal lead. At least, if there's something to build on, the Blue Jackets woke up in this game and made something out of it. In their 4-1 loss to Arizona, it was a 60-minute nap.
Six up, five down. That's how the Blue Jackets have navigated the first 11 games of the season and they're damn lucky no one's run away with the Metropolitan Division. They're still within shouting distance and likely will be unless a team around them catches fire tomorrow, but that's no consolation. Their issues are internal and it's past time to get them fixed – there's no excuse to be losing to Arizona and Detroit at home.
Especially not if you think you're good enough to take them lightly.
Tortorella wouldn't bite on the question post-game, instead telling Aaron Portzline (who asked if they took the Red Wings lightly) that he should ask the players. Of course they'll say no, but it sounds like Tortorella knows the answer. For as much as the coach and players have spoken about earning respect themselves, they could start dishing some out, as well. There are nights off in the NHL. Everyone knows that.
The Blue Jackets haven't arrived. They haven't done anything yet. And last night's super serving of humble pie should be a reminder of that.
AN UNLIKELY SPARK
Check this pass from noted playmaker Markus Nuti –
Holy smokes was this ever good:
It was Hannikainen's first multi-assist game in the NHL and both were beauties. This pass, to fellow Finn Nutivaara, really ramped up the rally. Tortorella said Hannikainen played well and "sparked us," but because the post-game presser was on a one-minute limit, that's all he could offer.
FARE THEE WELL, HUE
Just...thank god the Browns finally ended it.
3-36-1 and it took infighting for Hue Jackson to get fired.
I won't say anymore or else I'll launch into a pissed-off Browns tangent. No one wants that.
Happy Wednesday, and Happy Halloween.
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