The Blue Jackets are caught between a rock and a hard place right now.
After their fourth straight loss - a 4-1 decision at Verizon Center in Washington tonight - the same problems remain: they are not defending well in front of their net, they are losing the special teams battle and their inability to score 5-on-5 is becoming an Achilles heel.
CAPITALS 4 | BLUE JACKETS 1
didn't play a poor game by any means; the Capitals used their NHL-best power play to score a couple of times and that ended up being the difference in the hockey game. Washington and Columbus played a relatively benign first peiod with no score and 14-11 shots favoring the Capitals
, but the second period was a lost opportunity for the Blue Jackets.
Joel Ward's power play goal opened the scoring, Brooks Laich scored the winner not long after, and the Blue Jackets were unable to find the net in the second period and make things interesting.
Perhaps the best thing for Columbus is to fly home tonight and get right back at it tomorrow afternoon against the Vancouver Canucks
. who dropped a 4-3 shootout decision on Saturday in Pittsburgh.
Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said post-game that he has not been too pleased with the play of some of the club's veterans, and it may lead to further lineup changes on Sunday. Dalton Prout will go back into the mix against Vancouver, Richards confirmed, and it's possible that Nikita Nikitin (who committed a turnover on the Capitals' third goal) could once again be a healthy scratch.
Let's talk more about tonight's game...
- We've touched on the Jackets' defensive struggles but they are giving up a hefty number of quality chances, and it's putting a lot of pressure on Bobrovsky. They were fortunate a year ago when Bobrovsky was near-perfect on many nights and bailed them out, but the Jackets owe their goaltender some better efforts in front of him.
- Jack Johnson was -2 in Washington and fell to -8 on the season.
- A game day arrival in D.C., Jack Skille stepped in played 7:33 tonight and provided some energy when he was on the ice with MacKenzie and Boll.
- One thing the Blue Jackets have done well this season is control games in the face-off circle. They've had the puck a lot and are starting with it over half the time. Columbus won 56 percent of the draws tonight against the Capitals, and all four centers won at least 44 percent. MacKenzie led the way at 8-for-11 (73 percent).
- Though it was a meaningless goal in the grand scheme, let's hope Anisimov's goal gets him started. The Blue Jackets need a lot more from their lanky center, who was moved up to play with Gaborik and Atkinson on Saturday night. Gaborik made a nice cross-ice pass and Anisimov buried it, his second of the season and first since opening night vs. Calgary.