By Tom T
Columbus finds themselves in the midst of the longest losing streak of the season (3 games, which really isn’t a huge streak). Losses are to teams that are all fighting for their playoff lives. But tonight, they face one of the tippy-top teams in the NHL, Winnipeg (3rd in points overall). The Jets score goals (172 6th in the league) and are stingy giving them up (140, 6th in the league).
Where is the problem?
Giving up 5 goals in his last outing and a possible trade hanging over his head, it is easy to point to Bob. He has been inconsistent this season, but is it him or are there problems on the back end?
Argument it is Bob:
He is fighting the puck. Two pucks that found the twine on Tuesday we off juicy rebounds, including the game winner. He also had the issue with the breakaway shot knocking him off balance and into the net followed by the puck. That was a bit of an embarrassing goal.
What was going on with the D?
Goal 1: Murray failed to take the pass away and Nutivaara was really late getting back.
Goal 2: High slot was completely open as Seth moved out to challenge the puck.
Goal 3: Murray and Nutivaara out there again. Murray was late closing the gap before the shot.
Goal 4: Breakaway on Murray and Nutivaara.
Goal 5: Duby missed coverage in front of the net on the rebound.
There were coverage issues from D-men and from C. There were bad rebounds. And the last goal was a failure to clear the puck. BUF was in the zone for a significant amount of time before that goal went in.
There is no one person/group to point the finger at. Plus, Bob did have some spectacular saves throughout the game. But, the rebounds and the breakaway are saves we have come to expect from him.
My take on goalie play is this. There is a ‘team defense’ issue. That needs to be addressed. Bob was punished just before the break and he learned that one player is not above the team. Trade deadline is hanging over this team BIG TIME. This leads to issues between the ears for Bob and that is not good.
Don’t tell me that these guys are professionals and trades are part of the job. That is understood, but it does have an impact on focus and performance.
Tonight’s game – how does the CBJ find a W?
Torts plan is: ‘For us to be ready for Winnipeg, everything has to improve...”
This is a big test on many fronts:
1. Can we compete with one of the top teams in the NHL on the road? Are we a real contender? The expected result isn’t a W, but to tighten up on D and to compete. Don’t get me wrong and W would be spectacular, but I don’t believe that is an expectation at this point. Team compete levels need to be high for this game to be a success.
2. Is Korpi our future? He gets his shot in a big game. He is asked to shut down a top scoring team and to end a 3-game skid on the road. This could be a real confidence-builder.
3. Can we score on a Vesina-wothy goaltender? Are the Jackets really a ‘high-scoring’ team or do they just score a lot against sub-par goaltending? Three+ goals tonight gives me hope that they could score on anyone. Two or less leaves a significant amount of doubt.
Buff is out for the Jets (yeah!). Boone is out for the CBJ (boo).
Is Bob sitting because there is a deal going down? I think we will ask that every time Korpi starts. It is not likely at this point but, is always a possibility.
The fans booed Panarin when he was announced in the starting line-up Tuesday. Keep it classy, C-Bus. Those fans are just pushing him out the door which is bad news. Despite that, Bread looked good on Tuesday. Two assists and all over the ice like usual. He did have a bad/weird penalty but played his usual high-energy/high-skill game. He is arguably the most talented CBJ ever, he is still fighting the good fight for C-Bus and he is getting booed? I would have no problem leaving if I were in his shoes.
The #2 and #3 draft picks from 2016 go head-to-head tonight. They are very different types of players and to this point have had different levels of success. Laine jumped right into the NHL and making a big splash with a 64-point season as a rookie (2016/2017) and a 70-point season last year. PLD has quietly made a name for himself with the Jacket faithful the last few years, but still flies under the radar nationally. In roughly the same amount of games this year (50 for Laine and 49 for Pierre-Luc), PLD has 45 points compared to Patrik’s 34 (and a -13 rating, ouch).
Columbus is now listed in the 2nd (and final) Wild Card spot after last night’s action saw the Pens top the Bolts 4 – 2 in Pittsburgh. That Tuesday loss looks a little bigger now. Thankfully Dallas beat the Sabres to keep them 3 points back.
I ask you, where is the CBJ’s biggest area of concern?