On Monday night, the Columbus Blue Jackets looked to put an end to their five-game losing streak with the Pacific Division-leading Dallas Stars coming to town. The Jackets got out to an early lead, but Dallas quickly recovered and took a 2-1 lead late into the third period.
With under two minutes to play, the Jackets were able to draw a Stars penalty and went on the power play. Mathieu Garon was pulled and gave the Blue Jackets a six-on-four advantage with the final seconds ticking off the clock. Captain Rick Nash was patient in the final minute and buried the tying power play goal to send the game into overtime. After the Jackets won the game in the shootout, the losing streak had ended and fans hoped that this was the end to Columbus' power play woes.
However, this was not the case against St. Louis last night. The Blue Jackets went on the power play eight times last night and were not able to score a goal. That is right folks, eight times! There was even one point where the Jackets had a five-on-three advantage for more than a minute-and-a-half and could not score against Jaroslav Halak. Halak, the same goalie that was pulled early in the Jackets blow out 8-1 victory the last time these two teams faced each other.
At the end of the first period, the Blues tried to hand over momentum by getting a rare faceoff violation penalty that would put the Jackets on the power play at the start of the second. Then, not even two minutes into the second period, the Blues committed another penalty for having too many men on the ice. At the five-minute mark of the second period, the Blues got yet another penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. So before the halfway point of the second period, the Blue Jackets went on three power plays, and yet, were able to score zero goals.
Every time the Blue Jackets went on the power play, the only thing that was consistent was their hesitation with the puck. This has become a reoccurring issue with the Jackets, as their power play is ranked 29th in the league. Their 10.3 power play percentage is only better than the lowly Florida Panthers, who tallied a power play goal against the Washington Capitals last night and are on the verge of putting the Blue Jackets in last place.
Each time the Jackets went on the power play, they passed the puck too much. I lost count of how many times the puck was passed across the point from defenseman to defenseman as myself and several other fans were yelling "shoot the puck!" No one on the power play unit wanted to step up and take a shot.
It does not matter what the situation is, take the shot and try and create a scoring opportunity. Chances are someone is not covered and could put a rebound in the back of the net. That is why they call it an advantage because your team has more players on the ice than the other team does.
You would think that the Blue Jackets would rise to the occasion and be fired up for last night's game after several Blues' players stated that they still had the 8-1 blowout loss to the Jackets in the back of their minds and hoped to hand out a little payback. However, the Blue Jackets came out nervous, clumsy, and turned the puck over several times.
Jared Boll tried to get the team riled up by getting into it with fellow brawler Cam Janssen late in the first period, but that did not work either. The fight was back and forth and it certainly got the Blues and St. Louis crowd riled up. However, when they showed the Blue Jackets bench, they just looked like they were not even watching the fight. A few players banged their sticks against the board to praise Boll, but no one seemed to be more energetic than before.
The other side of the Blue Jackets special teams has not been any better. The Jackets allowed two power play goals to a St. Louis team who entered last night's game on an 0-for-22 skid. The Blue Jackets continue to look sloppy on the penalty kill as the Blues were able to generate several scoring chances and made it look easy.
Head coach Scott Arniel needs to do something to make the Jackets play better and he needs to do it quickly. The Jackets are now in last place in the Central Division, and 11th in the Western Conference. Although they are one point away from the fifth place Kings, if their special team woes continues, that margin will only increase.
The Blue Jackets return to Nationwide Arena on Saturday to take on the New York Rangers.