"It's disappointing. I'd be disappointed if I were them too."
After being outscored 16-8 in the past three home games, Columbus Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno knew that fan (and team) expectations are not being met. This was even before the Tuesday night implosion against the Vancouver Canucks.
In the film session following the blowout loss to the Washington Capitals on Saturday night, the club took a deep look at what plagued such a discouraging home output. And even before a Tuesday loss to Vancouver, Foligno knew there were problems to be addressed:
"You need to see it (the film) sometimes; it's painful to watch, it's not fun, but you need to see it," said Foligno. "Torts really just tried to teach in this one. It wasn't personal...it was 'let's get better, let's understand why we're not winning right now.'"
Fan expectations for the Blue Jackets have been fairly low for the entirety of the franchise's history, but after back-to-back playoff trips with no series wins, the grace is quickly depleting.
The club is expected to be an elite team now, or soon.
"(In) years previous, we'd probably be thrilled where we're sitting," said Foligno. "But the standard in this team has gone up. The standard by the fans has gone up."
The Blue Jackets are at the top of the league in wins the past three seasons combined, which is a recipe for expectations and heightened success.
And Columbus is off to a fairly strong start this season, sitting second in the Metropolitan division with 34 points (16-12-2), but their play on their home-ice has been a big concern.
"The organization demands a certain way we play the game. We have not reached that level at home here. We seem to do it on the road. But at home, we don't get to that level which is really disappointing."
The Blue Jackets are 7-7-1 at home, the worst winning percentage for any team that currently sits in playoff spot contention. Their 9-5-1 road performance stares at them, confused as to how these records got mixed up.
In all four of the Jackets playoff appearances in their history, they have been the lower seed, meaning they have not captured the home-ice advantage. Yes, it's supposed to be an advantage.
It's an advantage that cannot be overlooked. The Blue Jackets escaped Washington last playoffs with a 2-0 lead, and had a guaranteed three more home games to lock the series up. They lost four in a row.
To be fair, the Caps won the cap and they lost two at home. But to be realistic, they also bounced back, like the Jackets could not do, won the series, and the rest is history.
When asked what exactly needed to change, Foligno communicated that it starts on the defensive end of the ice - for all players, not just defensemen:
"It's the mindset in this room of how we're going to win hockey games; we're not going to win hockey games consistently trying to win 7-6."
"We're gonna win by having the mentality of playing really good defense in front of two really good goalies, and then we're gonna score on our opportunities because we're going to be in the offensive zone the rest of the game," said Foligno.
The Jackets play their next three games at home, a chance to try and gain some momentum in Columbus that will carry on the rest of their way.
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