Every hockey game tells a story, but sometimes, the story extends beyond the scoreboard at the end of the game. For the Blue Jackets, this game told a story of perseverance through adversity.
They played against an undefeated Blackhawks team that had scored 17 goals in four games heading into tonight’s match-up – and they matched their level of intensity for a full 60 minutes.
“To me, tonight our players raised the bar," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. "They set a standard, and this is what we have to expect from ourselves every night now."
Despite a controversial call that disallowed a goal and changed the complexion of the game, the Blue Jackets could not muster enough offense to send the game into OT and potentially deliver the Blackhawks their first loss of the season.
Still, there were a lot of positives to take away from the game tonight and those positives defined the story of this game, Richards said. For he and the coaching staff, the team’s focus will be on the improvements they made and not on the bad bounces or missed calls.
“Every game is huge, so you better be able to put the failures behind you," Richards said. "But you've also got to put your successes behind you, too, and you have to take things from it to learn from it -- but you've got to move on.”
One of the obvious improvements came on the offensive end of the ice, where the Blue Jackets worked hard to make the necessary scrappy plays in front of Blackhawks netminder Corey Crawford. They out-shot the Blackhawks in two of the three periods tonight, and ended the game with 26 shots on goal, two more than their opponent.
“I think we got the message that if we’re gonna score goals, we gotta get to the dirty areas and compete in the dirty areas,” Derek Dorsett said after the game. “I thought we did a good job tonight, getting the puck to the net, getting bodies there.
“If we play like we did for 60 minutes here tonight, if we do that every night, then I think we’ll get a lot of wins."
Ryan Johansen, who won the offensive zone face-off that led to Artem Anisimov’s goal late in the third period, said that the team needs to stay positive and build off of the momentum they generated tonight.
“It showed in Colorado that we weren’t getting enough traffic on Varlamov there, so tonight, we wanted to make sure we were getting in the paint, getting pucks through,” Johansen said. “I thought we did a better job of that, but we could still build off tonight and keep moving forward in that area.”
As with any loss, the final score sends the message that the effort wasn’t enough to win and there are still holes that need to be filled, but as Richards said after the game, the road to success is a process. And tonight was a step forward in the process for the Blue Jackets.
“We’re a team that’s never going to quit, and obviously things haven’t gone our way," Dorsett said. "Everyone showed up this morning and tonight and put their full effort in."
“I thought we skated with them, I thought we did everything right along with them,” Richards said. “It’s a credit to the players because the players went out and executed.”
On to the next one.