Ultimately, the only statistic that matters is the scoreboard. That's the good news for the Blue Jackets who survived Tuesday night 2-1 in a shootout at New Jersey. The two points for the win were critical to the Jackets who had lost 3 of 4 and have fallen out of playoff position with only 16 games to go. Other than that bottom line, however, the concern of how this team is playing continues to grow.
The Devils, not only struggling in the standings but also with injuries, outplayed the Jackets for much of the game, doubling the CBJ in shots on goal and in scoring chances. Thankfully, Sergei Bobrovsky was outstanding, making 29 saves. He also stopped both of Jersey's attempts in the shootout, while Cam Atkinson and Artemi Panarin scored to secure an ugly victory.
"Very important points but there's certainly some struggles," Coach John Tortorella said to reporters following the win. "I know you guys are going to keep on asking me why (we're struggling) but I don't have an answer...It's an important two points though."
Veteran Brandon Dubinsky, on Fox Sports Ohio, seemed to indicate that the Jackets are pressing too much, and not bringing the enjoyment and energy needed at this stage of the season.
"It should be fun, like this should be fun. Guys should be licking their chops at how much fun this is to be in a playoff race and try to get in and see what happens," Dubinsky said. "You know we go through a hellacious training camp, we train our asses off all summer long...it's a long season and now we're in the stretch. This is the best part of the year. It was an ugly win...so hopefully we can find some confidence from this and pick up our game."
That needs to happen sooner rather than later. The Jackets schedule is brutal, however, if they can navigate it, they'll play their way into the post-season. Their next two games (Thursday and Saturday) are against Pittsburgh, who are two points ahead of the Jackets. Next week they visit the division leading Islanders on Monday, then play Boston, Carolina and Boston again---all teams ahead of the Jackets in the standings.
"All we can do is keep grinding away," Tortorella said. "We have to keep trying to get better each game."
Here's all of Tortorella's postgame reaction, as well as the comments of Dubinsky and team captain Nick Foligno.
Fox Sports Ohio's Bill Davidge weighs in
On Tuesday morning, prior to the Blue Jackets win over New Jersey, Fox Sports Ohio Blue Jackets studio analyst Bill Davidge talked on 610 WTVN with Joel Riley and me. It was a good and frank discussion on the struggles the Blue Jackets have had since last week's trade deadline. Thanks to Bill for joining us. If you missed the conversation, you can check it out here.