In tennis, matches are played in games and sets. To win a match (and you need to win three total), you need to win six sets. For the Jackets, they finally just lost their game of tennis, with their third loss out of the past four games. Losing 3-6 to Calgary, and 4-6 to Edmonton, the Jackets were easily behind. Columbus then won a match with a 6-4 victory over Anaheim. Last night, the Los Angeles Kings finished the Blue Jackets off, with a 2-6 victory. This ended the tennis match with a 3-1 set total, and helped to reveal the problems that are evident in Columbus' lineup.
After allowing 16 goals in just three game, the Columbus Blue Jackets came into Staples Center hoping to grab a victory, while not allowing to many goals in their own net. Los Angeles had a very different idea, and they made sure to aim for it quickly. Just five minutes into the game, Michal Handzus (5) sent the puck past a confused Steve Mason. Only 49 seconds later, Anze Kopitar notched his ninth goal of the year, this time past a now dazed Mason. It was clear that Columbus wasn't up to tonight's game, and they were suffering.
Some hope came later in the first, when Rob Scuderi hipchecked Jason Chimera dirtily. Chimera went down hard, and the Jackets were fired up, and they were ready to party. Chimera attempted to push towards the bench, and got a game misconduct for that. Derek Dorsett even jumped off of the bench to fight with Scuderi, only to get a misconduct himself. The Jackets were smoldering, and they were ready for revenge.
Antoine Vermette was the first of the Jackets to utilize this spark, grabbing his third goal of the year. Not only does this give Vermette a point in each of the last five games, but it also really helps out my fantasy stats. The Kings threw water onto the fire, however, when Jarret Stoll (3) and Kopitar (10) scored. Though Kristian Huselius (5) later got a power play goal, the set was over, and Columbus had lost the entire tennis match.
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Antoine Vermette has been playing amazingly this season. Though there have been some games where he doesn't show up in the stats, Vermette normally plays a crucial role in each contest. He plays solidly on both ends of the ice, and he helps cut off passes and shots. Vermette has reached the role for which he was signed, and he has been playing it perfectly. With several bad games for the team recently, Vermette is one of the few Jackets who has been playing well.
Defense, what defense? That is what Blue Jacket fans are saying across the country. Sure, Goalie Steve Mason might be letting in a bunch of soft shots, but he is also being shot on far too often. The defense of the Jackets doesn't seem to exist, and, when they do, they make too many mistakes. Passes are intercepted mid-ice, pucks are turned over, and shots are left wide open. As Chimera put it; “We have to go back home and get back on the horse and start playing better hockey in our own zone.” Unless the Jackets tighten up on defense, they will be letting many, many more goals in, and this will result in many games lost.
The Jackets couldn't get any sustained offense going tonight, or in any recent game. The reason for this, aside from poor passing, is the inability to enter the offensive zone with any speed. With the sole exception of Nikita Filatov, no player has entered the offensive zone with control and speed. Without speed, odds are that somebody will be off-sides, or that the defense will have time to fortify their positions. Columbus needs to work on entering the zone properly, or they will not have too many chances in future games.
On Wednesday, the Blue Jackets will be facing the Phoenix Coyotes at home in Nationwide Arena. In their one game against each other this season, the Jackets won when backup goalie Mathieu Garon got a shutout victory. Like that game, this one will probably be decided by strong goal tending. Columbus is undefeated at home, and their defense shows up when playing in Columbus. Phoenix will have limited chances on offense, and they will need to cash in on these. Likewise, the last few games for the Coyotes were decided by just a goal, so they will need to have strong goal tending to grab the win. Wednesday's game will be decided by the goalies, and both need to be on their A-game.
Know Your Hockey
The New York Rangers
The New York Rangers are one of the oldest teams in the National Hockey League. While they were not one of the founding members – the Rangers were founded in 1926 – they were one of the teams operating at the expansion, thus they are considered members of the Original Six. The Rangers are the fifth oldest team in the NHL.
The Rangers were the first American team to win the Stanley Cup, in the 1927-28 season, and they have done so three more times since then. For decades after their third cup, it appeared as though the Rangers had a curse upon their team. While they regularly made it to the playoffs, the team simply could not win the cup. This ended in 1994, when the Rangers won their fourth Stanley Cup. Even with huge names and major stars, including The Wayne Gretzky, the Rangers have yet to win another.
The Rangers play out of New York (Madison Square Garden) and are members of the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference.
Columbus is 6-4-0, with 12 points, making them second in the Central – Chicago is leading the Central with 13 points. The next game for Columbus will be in Columbus against the Coyotes, on Wednesday, the 28th of October at 7:00 p.m. Phoenix and Columbus have met once this season, with Columbus winning that meeting.