Friday against the Flames the Jackets looked slow and couldn’t sustain quality offensive pressure. On Saturday they looked sluggish through two periods but managed to battle through their first back-to-back series of the season and made a comeback in the third period.
Last year’s leading scorer for the Jackets, Mark Letestu scored a power play goal midway through the third that motivated the team to overcome a 0-2 deficit. The goal reenergized the club and they kept the majority of the play in the offensive zone. A few minutes later Nick Foligno directed a puck to the net that snuck behind Islanders goaltender Evgeni Nabokov after it was pushed in by New York Islander Peter Regin’s body in front of the net. A little bit of talent, a little bit of luck and a lot of Sergei Bobrovsky, who made a huge save with five seconds left in regulation, brought the team even and they held on and forced it to overtime.
The club’s traded chances through overtime and both goalies stood their ground. Mark Letestu led the charge again in the shootout as he scored first and Cam Atkinson scored in the fourth round to secure the win. Bobrovsky made 28 saves on 30 shots in 65 minutes and allowed 1 goal on 4 shootout chances.
Boone Jenner was given a chance on the 1st-line in the game Friday, but Coach Todd Richards replaced him with Blake Comeau during the game. Richards basically said that Boone Jenner wasn’t fully prepared to handle the speed of the game and it’s something he has to work on. He’s played well on the 3rd-line and the team has four days off, so hopefully we’ll see a more collected player in the next game. His preseason was so promising and it would be nice to see him turn it up and take that 1st-line position again.
Ryan Murray also made his NHL debut on Friday and played well. Apparently he had trouble adjusting to the speed at first but I didn’t seem to notice. By the 2nd period he was making good passes and maintained good positioning. By Saturday he was jumping into the offensive mix and even stood tall going one-on-one against John Tavares streaking into the zone.
The number one cop on the force for two nights in a row was Bobrovsky. He started both games in the back-to-back series which must mean that the coaches don’t have a lot of faith in the backup Curtis McElhinney. Bobrovsky allowed 4 goals Friday but played very well in the second game causing us all to reminisce to last season.
Playoffs or Bust
The Columbus Alive printed a cover that stated “it’s playoffs or bust for the Blue Jackets” on their current issue of the free publication. It leads you to wander whether the club is really prepared to make a run for the playoffs and if that’s the message that the organization really wants you to believe. This would put an enormous amount of pressure on head coach Todd Richards. He hasn’t had a terrific track record in the NHL even though he was very successful in the AHL. This could be his last chance as a head coach in the NHL if his team doesn’t perform well this season. Jody Shelley, the new team ambassador, never promised the playoffs in his interview or even really talked about them.
Bobrovsky is .750 on shootout chances this season.
Jack Johnson and Marian Gaborik are on pace for 42 goals and 42 assists in 82 games.
Jack Johnson is also on pace for 246 penalty minutes and he’ll probably take most of them with less than a minute left in the game.
Cam Atkinson and Mark Letestu are batting 1.000 in the shootout. Artem Anisimov and Ryan Johansen are 0 for 1.
Artem Anisimov leads the team in faceoffs winning 15 of 25 (60%)
The Jackets are 40% on the power play this season which is 2nd in the league behind Washington at 50%