The only thing keeping the Blue Jackets from feeling like they’re living their own personal version of Groundhog Day is that Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell and Stephen Tobolowsky aren’t around.
Columbus lost its eighth game in a row Saturday night in Washington, and the 4-3 loss felt a lot like the previous setbacks. The Blue Jackets yet again did a lot of good things, and they held a lead just as they had in the previous seven losses, but the end result was the same thanks to breakdowns and mistakes at key times.
“Looks like every game, same old story,” defenseman Ivan Provorov said after the loss. “It’s like you’re watching the same movie over and over again.
“To be honest, I think we have to continue to try to play the right way, continue to work hard. Obviously we have some young guys on the team, and this club last year went through some rough times, so it takes time to learn how to win. Right now it feels like we’re almost there but not quite, and that almost there is a big difference between winning games and losing games. So we have learn from our mistakes.”
Saturday night’s game might have been at the top of the list where frustration is concerned. The Blue Jackets had advantages in just about every possession stat according to Natural Stat Trick, beating the Capitals handily at 5-on-5 in shot attempts (55-41), shots on goal (24-18) scoring chances (27-16) and expected goals (2.75-1.27) yet still coming up on the wrong end of the coin.
“I’ve been on teams where it’s a different feeling,” Justin Danforth said. “You’re losing games and getting outshot 60-20, but this is a different feeling. We come every day with the right attitude. We’re coming to the rink with a good feeling, like we’re gonna win. We’re in the mix in the games. We want to win at all costs right now. It’s just not coming.”
The frustration started to boil over for head coach Pascal Vincent postgame. He’s maintained throughout the streak that the Blue Jackets are close to winning, and seeing his team unable to reap the benefits of its play has become difficult for the man in charge.
“Every game we’re right there,” he said. “We could be four or five games above .500 right now. It’s getting ridiculous. It’s just those little lapses and then the first thing you know, the puck is in the back of your net.
“So we’re gonna focus on the positives here, but it’s getting old. I’m repeating myself, but it’s getting pretty (stinking) old right now.”
Know The Foe: Philadelphia Flyers
Head coach: John Tortorella (2nd season)
Team stats: Goals per game: 3.24 (15th) | Scoring defense: 2.94 (11th) | PP: 10.5 percent (29th) | PK: 80.0 percent (14th)
The narrative: Tortorella was brought in to return the Flyers to their hard-nosed, hard-working culture, and the early returns this season have been solid. Philadelphia has just four playoff series and one series win in the last 11 seasons, but they’ve gotten off to a good start this season and are in the mix as he near the quarter pole thanks to a four-game winning streak including an OT triumph vs. Vegas last night.
Team leaders: The big thing the Flyers have this year that was missing a season ago is scoring depth, as the return of Cam Atkinson and Sean Couturier from injury and steps forward from youngsters Joel Farabee and Owen Tippett have helped. Defenseman Travis Sanheim leads the team in scoring with a 2-14-16 line that places him tied for sixth in the NHL among blueliners in scoring, while veteran Travis Konecny has a team-best 10 goals among his 14 points. Atkinson (8-5-13), Tippett (7-6-13) and Couturier (4-9-13) are next in scoring with Farabee close behind with six goals and six helpers.
In net, Carter Hart leads the way with a 6-3-0 record, 2.40 GAA and .919 save percentage, but he played yesterday vs. Vegas. Samuel Ersson (2-3-1, 3.43, .855) is the backup.
What’s new: Philadelphia didn’t make a ton of changes in the offseason, bringing in some depth players like Garnet Hathaway, Ryan Poehling and Sean Walker while giving youngsters Bobby Brink (2019 second rounder), Tyson Foerster (2020 first-rounder) and Yegor Zamula a bigger role. So far, the mix has worked, with the Flyers playing solid defensive hockey to get back into the mix in the Metropolitan Division.
Trending: Columbus has generally performed well against the Flyers, notching a 23-10-3 record in the series since joining the Metropolitan, before the Flyers took a 4-2 win against the Jackets on Opening Night.
Former CBJ: In addition to Tortorella, the winningest coach in franchise history, Atkinson is second all-time in goals among CBJ players.
Projected Lineup (subject to change)
Dmitri Voronkov – Adam Fantilli – Kirill Marchenko
Cole Sillinger – Boone Jenner – Yegor Chinakhov
Johnny Gaudreau – Patrik Laine – Mathieu Olivier
Alexandre Texier – Sean Kuraly – Justin Danforth
Ivan Provorov – Damon Severson
Zach Werenski – Erik Gudbranson
Jake Bean – David Jiricek
Scratches: Trey Fix-Wolansky, Adam Boqvist, Andrew Peeke
Injured reserve/Injured Non-Roster: Jack Roslovic (fractured ankle, out four to six weeks as of Nov. 13); Daniil Tarasov (knee, week to week)
Roster Report: This is the lineup Columbus used last night in its loss to Washington; any changes will be known when Pascal Vincent addresses the media pregame.
3 Stats to Know
- Both Adam Fantilli (nine points, tied for fifth) and Dmitri Voronkov (eight points, tied for eighth) are among the top 10 rookies in the NHL in scoring.
- Zach Werenski and Ivan Provorov each have 10 assists on the season, making the Blue Jackets one of three teams with two defensemen who have double digits in helpers this season. The others are Vancouver (Quinn Hughes and Filip Hronek) and Tampa Bay (Victor Hedman and Mikhail Sergachev).
- Milestone watch: Boone Jenner set a CBJ record by playing in his 675th game last night, while Johnny Gaudreau played in his 700th NHL game. … Andrew Peeke is one game away from 200 in his career. … Yegor Chinakhov is one game from 100 in his NHL career.
Zach Werenski has assists in five straight games, a new personal best. … Dmitri Voronkov has a 2-6-8 line in his first 12 games, becoming just one of four CBJ players in franchise history to have at least eight points in their first 12 career NHL contests along with Werenski (3-8-11), Jakub Voracek (3-5-8) and Oliver Bjorkstrand (4-4-8). … Erik Gudbranson has posted seven points in the last nine games with a 1-6-7 line. … Adam Fantilli is tied for fourth among NHL rookies in goals (four). … Alexandre Texier has a 3-3-6 line in the last seven games. … Columbus ranks second in the NHL penalty kill percentage since Oct. 20, killing off 38 of 41 (92.7 percent) power-play chances over the last 15 games.
This Day in CBJ History
Nov. 19, 2011: James Wisniewski scores in overtime past Pekka Rinne and the Blue Jackets earn a 4-3 overtime win at Nashville. The victory snapped a 17-game losing streak at Nashville that dated back to 2006.