As has been the case for so many seasons, Nashville had the Blue Jackets' puzzle solved as they sprung ahead with a commanding 3 -1 lead midway through the game. They did a masterful job of outplaying the Jackets, and even their rookies were in top form.
So, what went wrong for the much-anticipated debut of the new-look Columbus Blue Jackets?
Here are four reasons why the Jackets dropped their home-opener 3 -2 to the Predators.
Columbus had fits with their power play last season and made a concerted effort in the offseason to address this issue. They added Todd Richards—former coach of the Minnesota Wild—to the coaching staff to assist with, among other things, the putrid power play of the Jackets.
Last night, the Jackets were 0-5 on the power play and looked overwhelmed at times by the Predators. Give credit to Nashville for their relentless pressure, which made it difficult for the home team to even get the puck out of their own end zone on many occasions.
Undoubtedly, Todd Richards has a lot of work ahead of him, but he has a successful track record in this department.
Look for the Jackets to continue working and improving on their power play.
Perhaps the most troubling thing about last night’s game was the inexcusable turnovers by the defensive corps.
Unfortunately, Fedor Tyutin had a case of the butter fingers as he plopped the puck right back to the waiting Nashville Predators on more than one occasion. Ryan Johansen struggled to get the puck out of his own end zone as well, and was guilty of turnovers.
I believe former Blue Jackets coach, Ken Hitchcock, had a term he used, “competitive composure,” and it seems applicable in this case.
What can never be a good thing are back-to-back penalties, especially when you pile on three consecutive penalties.
The penalty-kill team for the Jackets did a valiant job of staving off the hungry Predators in the middle period, but finally conceded a goal.
Where you cannot find fault with the Blue Jackets is in their hearts.
Derek Dorsett incurred a penalty after trying to protect his blue line without a stick, which he had passed on to a teammate that lost his stick. As the puck flew in mid-air in front of Dorsett, he gloved it for a fraction of a second and then tossed it into the Nashville half. As one penalty ended, another began with Dorsett taking a seat in the penalty box.
Going forward, the Jackets will have to show greater discipline and ensure penalties are kept to a minimum—especially the consecutive variety. Once again, "competitive composure" is needed by the Jackets.
Those hockey theorists that subscribe to the school of thought that the goaltender’s position is the most critical had to be applauding Pekka Rinne’s MVP performance.
The Blue Jackets' No. 1 line—Vinny Prospal, Jeff Carter and Rick Nash—were foiled time and again by Pekka Rinne’s outstanding goaltending. Nash was able to finally tap one in past Rinne to make it a 3-2 game and give the Jackets a fighting chance to tie it up.
If Nashville had a mediocre goaltender between the pipes, then there is little doubt that the Jackets may have scored five or six goals.
Nevertheless, this brings up the issue of whether or not the Blue Jackets have left themselves vulnerable in the goaltender position. Only time will tell as to whether Steve Mason can deliver.
In the meantime, hats off to Pekka Rinne for a sterling performance to steal one away from the Jackets on opening night.
Overall, the Blue Jackets showed sparks of brilliance, and once the Prospal-Carter-Nash line plays to its potential, only great things can happen.
The season has only begun, and the Jackets already have some lessons to learn. James Wisniewski has yet to play and the rookies have just begun their stint with the Jackets. Much is yet to come from the new-look Columbus Blue Jackets as their season unfolds.
Tonight, the Jackets will take on assistant coach Todd Richards’ former team, the Minnesota Wild, in St. Paul, which should provide an interesting twist of its own. It will be Minnesota's home-opener, and you can bet they will be sold-out and raring to go.
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