The Blues had won four in a row, were coming off a shutout of a very good San Jose team, and were headed to Columbus, Ohio, home to one of the worst teams in the National Hockey League. How bad are the Blue Jackets? They're the NHL's designated team this season to fulfill the legal obligation of having one team referred to as 'lowly'. So, if you see me referring to them as anything other than the lowly Blue Jackets, just know I'm putting my own freedom at risk in a misguided attempt to be respectful. 'Cause that's just the kind of guy I am.
So the Blues were on a hot streak, playing as well as they have all year, and heading to Ohio to take on the lowly Blue Jackets. Of course they lost. We all should have seen it coming.
Clunkers have been few and far between since the Ken Hitchcock
Era (also known as In the Year of Our Cock, or Anno Cockus, AC for short), but it was a mighty one last night. And I can't imagine Hitch had too many kind words for his team after they showed so poorly against his former squad. Ahem, excuse me, lowly
Most likely all anyone will recall about this game was the dramatic game-tying goal with less than two ticks left on the clock that completed the comeback that wasn't, when David Perron tried to glove the puck into the net, but that near-miracle was perhaps the least important moment of the game. Or, at least, it was the moment least indicative of how the game itself actually went. What the video review reversing the call of a goal did was not steal a victory from the Blues; it made sure justice was served and the Blues received no points for playing so poorly.
The Blues played solid hockey in the first period, but fell off a cliff completely the rest of the way, playing as poorly as I've seen this team play. The second period in particular was just a disaster, with the Blue Jackets outshooting the Blues 11-5. That should never, ever happen against a team of Columbus's caliber. That's not to say you should never lose a game against a Columbus; good teams lose to weaker teams all the time. Things happen. But to be dominated like that, even for just a single period, just should not happen.
I honestly can't think of anything good to say about this game. Jaroslav Halak played reasonably well; he certainly wasn't up to his own standards of late, but he wasn't a disaster either by any means. Perron picked up an assist and David Backes scored. Kevin Shattenkirk was very active, though he failed to record a point.
That's literally all the positives there were. Even Alex Pietrangelo had a rare off night. I don't know if the Blues let up off the gas last night or if it was just one of those days, but they looked like a completely different team than they have for the past, well, basically since Hitchcock took over.
Maybe there's a lesson here, maybe not. Maybe this really does say something about the Blues' weaknesses on the road, or maybe it doesn't. Perhaps the only lesson to be learned here is they can't all be gems, and more important to the Blues is what they do to bounce back than why they laid an egg so badly in Columbus last night.
Everything was going so well, too.