The dreaded 'trap game'. It's a phrase with no tangible definition. Unless we need to figure out how to keep a public bus from going below 50 mph lest it causes nuclear holocaust, the concept of a trap game is fairly abstract.
As far as I know, the Columbus Blue Jackets are made up of professional hockey players. These professional hockey players aren't as good as the professional hockey players that play for the Dallas Stars, but they're still professional hockey players. As a team, they'll pick up a small amount of wins when the season is over. And some of those wins will be over good teams. The Dallas Stars didn't fall into a trap. Rather, they became a footnote in Blue Jacket lore. Just like Nashville before them. And St. Louis. And LA. Et cetera. This isn't supposed to make you feel better for watching what was ultimately a pretty embarrassing game, but it should allow you to remain calm and take a deep breath.
1. Ain't No Daisy At All
Columbus' organization hasn't had much to cheer about. For a variety of reasons. It's not just the Ryan Johansen saga. And it's not just John Tortorella mopping up the spilled milk with his bipolar ego. The Brandon Saad trade didn't make them better (a lateral move at best), and I can't think of a team with more bad contracts stacked on top of one another than Colubmus.
Away from all that madness is Anthony Zych, who Vice talked to about how his process works. Columbus doesn't have much to be proud of, but they should be proud of Zych, and they should be proud of at least one game this season. So about that first period...
2. Black and Blue Jackets
Blue Jackets pressure causing more issues. Stars not responding well in their own end still.— Josh Lile (@JoshL1220) December 30, 2015
Columbus once again swarmed the Stars' defense, and did a good job of keeping the points in Dallas' zone. Kari Lehtonen wasn't to blame on the first goal, but watching him lean over to stop a slap shot on the second goal was definitely on him. When the third goal happened from a Matt Calvert shot from modest distance, it was all but inevitable that Antti Niemi would have to pick up the slack. I didn't like the move personally. For one, John Klingberg did an awful job of picking up Calvert. With Ales Hemsky taking his man in the corner next to Goose, it was Klingberg's job to pick up any potential trailers. In addition, Kari should have stayed. It would have forced the defense to play tighter knowing any potential chance could become a goal given the way Kari was playing. It also would have saved Niemi from the embarrassment above.
3. A New Hope?
In the second, Dallas would cut it to within one. They were getting plenty of chances but McElhinney was pretty incredible throughout the night even though his blueline gave him little to no help.
4. The Ghost of 2014-2015
I'm not sure who this team is but they need to give me my team back and then go away.— ldietz (@ldietz) December 30, 2015
And then Columbus would take its second two goal lead of the night (out of three). Team defense is a thing; a lot of problems we sometimes place on the blueline is actually a byproduct of forwards being in bad spots to accept a pass coming out of the zone. But the blueline was definitely the giveaway firestarter in this one. Columbus was constantly threatening from behind the net (!) with stretch passes to forwards in the neutral zone because Dallas' D was posted so low. I get that you're looking to create more chances in times of desperation, but it's all for naught if you eliminate the need for desperation altogether by serving up the counter attack on a silver platter.
5. Surviving the Game
luv u captain pic.twitter.com/gkvOjfU6Zu— NHL Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) December 30, 2015
Robert Tiffin noted on Twitter that the Jackets look a team playing for their lives. And not in a sports sense. Would it really be a shock to find out that Tortorella runs his practices like a sequel to the Hunger Games?
6. On to the Next One
The force was definitely not with them last night. It will have to be tomorrow when they take on the Nashville Predators. Despite what should have been an automatic two points, Dallas is still seven points ahead of St. Louis, with a game in hand.
So about those stray observations...
- Kevin Connauton really loves to stick it to his old team doesn't he? He always had a heck of a shot; funny how none of them go in except against Dallas.
- I don't know what Niemi was doing on that Hartnell goal, but I'm glad it happened. Like trying to work a hover board without much success, it's a nice addition to this year's blooper real.
- Colton Sceviour is having another Alex Chiasson in his first 6 games moment. That's three goals in his last four. I. Told. You. So.
- There were a lot of good players making bad plays last night, so I'm not singling him out, but Lindy Ruff needs to give Valeri Nichushkin the Mystery Alaska treatment. Stuff like this is weirdly inexcusable. Throwing the body around a bit more might help out that part of his game. The mind will follow young padawan.