Just when you thought the Columbus Blue Jackets were showing signs of being a competitive team, you get to witness a drubbing like I witnessed tonight.
The Calgary Flames, coming off of a loss the night before against the Detroit Red Wings, came into Nationwide Arena and absolutely hammered the Blue Jackets by a score of 6-2.
This game was one-sided from Calgary’s opening goal, a backhanded shot at 8:13 of the first period off of a rebound which Blue Jacket goalie Steve Mason couldn’t handle to make the score 1-0. Then at 14:50, Flames defenseman Ian White blistered a slap shot from the point to make the score 2-0. Columbus’ Derek Dorsett closed the gap to 2-1 off of a rebound from a Rusty Klesla shot from the point. However, one minute and four seconds later, Rene Bourque then scored the first of his three goals to end the period 3-1 in favor on Calgary. And the rout was on.
Bourque added two more goals and Alex Tanguay added a goal to make the final score 6-2, a lopsided Flames victory.
Jan Hejda drilled a slap shot to record the Blue Jackets other goal, but by then the outcome was sealed in Calgary’s favor.
The loss dropped the Blue Jackets record to 3-3-0 on the young season, but this was the second blowout on consecutive Friday night games.
Here is an analysis of the Blue Jackets performance tonight (warning: this won’t be pretty):
Derek Dorsett: Dorsett provided the lone spark on an otherwise miserable evening, not only by scoring a goal to give the local fans some hope, but by shortly thereafter tangling in a fight with noted Flames captain and tough guy Jarome Iginla, and holding his own in the process.
As the commercial goes, “Not going anywhere for a while…better grab a Snickers”. This might take a while.
Steve Mason: The concern at the beginning of the season was which Steve Mason would show up this season, the 2009 Calder Trophy recipient or the sophomore slump Mason of 2009-10. Instead, the 2010-11 Mason appears so far to be a “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”. Mason was awful tonight – while some goals were attributable to defensive lapses, at least two of the three first period goals were unobstructed slap shots from the back of the offensive zone, shots Mason has to stop. It was surprising that Scott Arniel left Mason in the game to start the second period.
Blueline execution (or lack thereof): The key to Scott Arniel’s up-tempo system is for defensemen to effectively move the puck out of their defensive zone. The Blue Jackets struggled all night trying to not only move the puck out of their zone, but even to move the puck through the neutral zone and that includes by its forwards. I wasn’t sure if they were playing the somewhat suspect Flames or the New Jersey Devils neutral-zone trapping teams of yesteryear.
No Jump: It was hard to discern who actually played the night before as well as who played three games in the last four nights. If you didn’t know that coming in, you would have thought it was the Blue Jackets who played the previous night. The Flames took the action to the Blue Jackets from the get-go and knocked the Blue Jackets out, early and often. A loss is one thing, but a lack of jump and effort is another. The half-full arena crowds are a prime indicator that these too faithful fans have seen enough putrid efforts and bad outcomes.
The Top Two Lines: There was plenty of blame to go around, but particularly from the Blue Jackets top two forward lines. Henrik Karlsson was making his NHL debut in goal for the Flames, and the Blue Jackets made his initiation far too easy for him, attempting only 22 shots on goal, the majority of which were attempted during the last ten minutes of the game – by then, far too late. He sent a message to top-line forward Kristian Huselius by demoting from the number one line – when, if ever, will he send a message to the remaining two top-line members, and particularly to team captain Rick Nash, who registered a -3 plus/minus rating tonight.
The power play continues to worsen: A 0-for-4 power play effort might have been the nadir of power play ineptitude, as it seemed nearly impossible to drop this unit’s previous 9.0% conversion rate.
Room for Improvement:
There’s not enough space to record all that has to improve.
Up next for the Blue Jackets is a trip to the United Center to meet the Chicago Blackhawks, the defending Stanley Cup champions. The last time these two teams met, the Blackhawks recorded a 5-2 drubbing of the Blue Jackets in Nationwide arena, the Blue Jackets home season opener. The Blackhawks did lose this evening to the St. Louis Blues, so to add to this painful loss will be a motivated bunch of Blackhawks, who await the Blue Jackets arrival.