Last night, the Blue Jackets found themselves in unfamiliar territory. Playing easily one of their worst games of the year, they ‘overcame’ adversity and won the game in a shootout by a surprising deke from Williams, and a great shot by Nash. The win marked the 500th of Ken Hitchcock’s career.
Now I understand that those of you who do happen to read these blogs might get the idea that I bash this team more than I cheer for it, but that is not the case. My biggest fault is my ability to magnify the mistakes, while quietly appreciating the strong play. Players like Backman and Modin have been in my doghouse all year for their sloppy play and incredible mistakes, but at the same time, guys like Malhotra, Mason, Commodore, and Umberger are in my great graces, with their attention to detail and hyper active effort every time they stop on the ice.
Last night, however, the team looked like they did not want to be on the ice. They looked tired, lethargic, and not on their game. They played the first period almost as poorly as they played the third period against St Louis, and were fortunate to get a last second goal to tie the game going into the first intermission. Every time Backman touched the puck seemed to be a mistake waiting to happen. Adversely, every time Umberger touched the puck, it was as though he was unstoppable. Forcing the play deep into the offensive zone, and getting excellent shots on young Pogge, Umberger was again by far the best Jacket on the ice.
This post is not meant to say the Jackets are in trouble, simply that they need to really bear down over the next two months if they want to make the playoffs. While they have points in their last seven games, they really need to think about their on ice effort in the next game or two. The lackluster effort of late will not be taken lightly by any team.