After an impressive run that saw the Blue Jackets win four out of five games -- including three straight at home -- they took a frustrating loss on Sunday against the San Jose Sharks, in which a 3-1 lead in the third period ended in a 5-3 loss.
The loss exposed the Jackets in elements that have been the culprit in many of their losses this season: consistent effort and finishing the job at hand. This will be important as the Jackets have a week of rematches this week -- all against teams they have beaten since John Tortorella took over as head coach.
The Jackets got back to work with a 2-1 win over the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday, but Tortorella was less than pleased with how it happened.
Then the 5th Line will have a day off from hockey, and spend the day enjoying the company of family and friends, probably some football and feast on glorious, roasted penguin, mashed potatoes and gravy and all the fixings.
Oops...roasted turkey. Sorry...Pittsburgh on the brain. And with good reason. The Jackets return to Nationwide Arena on Friday to host the Penguins, two weeks after that gritty 2-1 win in CONSOL Energy Center. Count on seeing a lively crowd there.
The Jackets play St. Louis Saturday, to finish up the season series. This should be a spirited affair in St. Louis after the Jackets took the first game at home earlier this month. Getting Alexander Wennberg and Brandon Dubinsky healthy and back in the lineup could not come at a better time.
The Jackets did fairly well in Dubinsky's absence, but the energy he brings and his leadership in the dressing room and on the ice can be a very important addition for a team that is looking to put some wins together and get a streak going.
Wennberg has also put in some good minutes this season when he has been active. Some missed games due to injury have hampered him somewhat, but his return should be something to keep an eye on this long weekend.
Getting key personnel back should be a good spark for this team, and good motivation to stay at the task at hand. The Blue Jackets are inching back in, winning five of the last seven, but they need a tear to become a threat to the rest of the NHL.
The pieces are in place. The system is in place. Torts has re-established the culture of accountability on this team. The time to talk about learning from mistakes is over. The time to actually learn and apply those lessons is now.
See you on Friday at Nationwide, 5th Line.