Slow starts are becoming a problem for the Blue Jackets, and listening to Brandon Dubinsky talk after the game, it's going to take a collective effort from the players to get it straightened out.
The players talked earlier in the week about "starting the game on time" and making sure they're ready to go as soon as the puck drops. Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards talked post-game about how, when he was a player, throwing a hit or taking a hit early in games made him feel emotionally engaged and got the adrenaline going. Considering this game wasn't overly physical at any point, perhaps that's an approach we see when things get started Saturday night against Detroit.
But for the time being, let's break this one down.
Columbus gave up two goals in the first 10:23 of this game and they were two goals that Sergei Bobrovsky never got a good read on. Barret Jackman's wrister traveled through four or five bodies before finding the top corner of the net, and Patrik Berglund's missile from the left circle was out of the net as quickly as it went in.
Regardless of Bobrovsky having a chance on either goal, the Blue Jackets know the answer is all about the way they start the game and making sure the opposition doesn't get scoring chances because they're handed to them.
The Blue Jackets had the better of the play from the second period on, and got their only goal by taking advantage of a sloppy second period by the visitors. They nearly made it a 3-2 game on a couple of instances, but entered the third period needing a pair to at least tie the game. Players know it, coaches know it...but it's awfully difficult to string points and wins together when two and three-goal deficits become regular.
Here are my thoughts after tonight's 4-1 defeat at Nationwide Arena:
1. Not on Bob: Bobrovsky entered the game with a 2-1-1 record on the year and has made a habit of saving his teammates' bacon. The first Blues goal was a total screen, the second was well-drawn up and executed, and (if anything) the third was a stoppable shot but it should not have come down to that. The Blue Jackets' puck support was lacking the first period and they committed far too many turnovers to have a chance against a Blues team that is extremely good at separating players from pucks.
2. Power play strikes: Perhaps their best chances came on the power play in this game, and the unit that has struggled so often in the early part of the season nearly turned the tide for the Blue Jackets. Derick Brassard's goal was wonderfully set up by Dubinsky and they moved the puck around well in each opportunity after the first period, and if not for a couple of goal posts late in the middle stanza, this could have been a different game. But it's even more of a different game without the three-goal first period.
3. Team toughness: We saw Nick Foligno drop the gloves, Derek MacKenzie get in a scrap, and of course it's no surprise that Jared Boll and Derek Dorsett were physically involved against a division rival -- but it's just another step in the Blue Jackets developing a team toughness factor. Fights don't equal goals, as we all know, but they serve a purpose in this game and Foligno's scrap with Barret Jackman seemed to wake up the Columbus bench.