The Blue Jackets did not have their best tonight. They did not bring the same game that nearly got them into the Stanley Cup playoffs last spring, and they were a bit timid and sloppy out of the gate on opening night at Nationwide Arena.
But, they did a fine job in righting the ship late in the first period and seemed to have things straightened out early in the second period. They got back to their heavy forechecking game and forced the Flames defense into mistakes, but were unable to beat Joey MacDonald for a third time until the waning minutes of regulation.
FINAL: Flames 4, Blue Jackets 3
Todd Richards said post-game that there's no sense in feeling sorry about this game, and for good reason: the Blue Jackets are right back on the ice tomorrow night, and will serve as the opening night guests of the New York Islanders. They face another fast team that likes to push the pace, and right now, there's no better remedy than to get back at it (and in short order).
So, what went well and what didn't go all that great? Here are some post-game nuggets...
- Players talked about guarding against a sloppy start on opening night and it's just one of those things. You're standing around for a while during the pre-game ceremony and it takes a bit to get engaged after the puck drops. Despite the slow start, the Blue Jackets bounced back well and scored a couple of nice goals in the first period. Truth be told, they could have had a couple more.
- Boone Jenner did not last long on the Jackets' top line and Richards thought the game was a bit quick for him early on. He said Jenner got better as the game progressed, but Blake Comeau skated most of the game alongside Dubinsky and Gaborik. Jenner finished with 12 shifts and 10:27 of ice time, but he was noticeable on several occasions.
- The plus/minus number doesn't show it, but Ryan Murray did a solid job in his NHL debut. With Tyutin out of the lineup, the Jackets' defensemen were tasked with picking up tough assignments and heavy minutes but they were up for it. Murray and Wisniewski were paired on the ice for Calgary's first two goals, but Murray showed some confidence later in the game by jumping into the rush as the second wave of offense.
- Bobrovsky wasn't great nor was he subpar, but he did not have a lot of help in the third period. The Flames really started to put the pedal to the floor after the midway point of the third, and a couple of defensive breakdowns left him high and dry.
- After an aesthetically pleasing start, the Blue Jackets' power play sputtered on its second and third chances but finished the night 1-for-3 with Johnson's goal being the highlight.