Courtesy of MCT
There’s no time to waste in the current NHL season – the Columbus Blue Jackets just need points. So far, they’re getting the job done.
The Detroit Red Wings crashed the Blue Jackets’ Monday home opener by tying the game at three with 6:04 remaining in regulation before winning in a shootout, 4-3. The night wasn’t a total loss, though – players in the Columbus locker room found consolation in gaining a point by virtue of forcing overtime against the visitors.
That valuable point in the standings gave the Blue Jackets three points through two games (the first two came in Saturday’s season-opening 4-3 shootout win at Nashville). It took the 2011-12 Blue Jackets nine games to make three points and claim their first win. So, while it’s true that the Blue Jackets were a mere 6:04 away from only the second 2-0 start to a season in franchise history, the team is taking a glass-half-full approach to the situation.
“For us, (Monday’s game is) still a good point,” Blue Jackets wing Vinny Prospal said after the game. “I think, before the season, if anybody told us we’d have three points after the first two games, we would take it.”
Prospal scored his first goal of the season – the would-have-been game winner – with 11:17 to play in the third period to put Columbus up, 3-2. Red Wings veteran center Pavel Datsyuk erased that lead when he jammed the game-tying goal past Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky from close range. After a scoreless overtime period, Detroit center Damien Brunner scored the only goal of the shootout to win the game.
A single point isn’t to be taken lightly in the current lockout-shortened, 48-game season. Fewer games mean fewer chances to climb in the standings and a significantly narrowed margin for error when compared to the ample opportunities teams have to improve during the typical 82-game seasons.
Another product of the condensed schedule is quick turnarounds – Columbus will play its third game in five days Wednesday against the Phoenix Coyotes. If there was any lingering frustration about letting a win against Detroit slip away, Blue Jackets’ defenseman Jack Johnson compelled his teammates to quickly move beyond it.
“You have to let it go,” Johnson said. “We have to get ready for Wednesday … win or lose, you have to put it behind you and get ready for the next one.”
A win against the Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, Ariz., would give the Blue Jackets five points – it took last year’s team 12 games to reach that plateau, and they were already fading from the playoff picture, having posted a 2-9-1 record during that span.
So long as the team doesn’t fade into playoff oblivion again, when and how the points come probably isn’t of much consequence to the Columbus players. The goal, Johnson said, is to simply accumulate points every time out and stay in the hunt.
“We’re trying to find a way to get a point in every single game,” Johnson said. “Because every point is so precious with only 48 games.”
John Davidson, president of hockey operations for Columbus, agreed.
“There’s no such thing as a bad point,” Davidson said. “Not this year.”
The Blue Jackets’ Wednesday game at Phoenix is scheduled for an 10 p.m. start.