In a bit of a pattern developing in the preseason, the Blues didn't start playing at the drop of the puck and couldn't fully recover. They came out flat and allowed the first four goals to Columbus and came up a short at the end.
On the first goal, the puck almost gets out of the Blues zone but gets held at the line and Oshie's back side pressure on Nick Foligno isn't good enough, allowing Foligno to saucer a pass to Mark Letestu in the slot who absolutely buries the chance with a perfect shot, bar down. Great shot on a quick turnaround goal. Sometimes you tip your helmet to the shooter. Their lackluster player worsened with them taking five consecutive penalties and allowing three power play goals before the first period ended.
On the Blue Jackets first power play goal, the coverage in front of the net was terrible, leaving Jared Boll wide open in the low slot to bury a one timer from a pass by Marko Dano from the side wall. The PK coverage on this play was terrible.
The Blue Jackets followed it up less than two minutes later with another power play goal from Ryan Craig. Frederic St. Denis let a strong shot go from the point. It seemed to get tipped or knuckle a bit and Elliott extended his right leg to make a good save but yet gain the PK defensemen were no where to be found in covering the front of the net, allowing Ryan Craig to get the rebound freely with time to pick his spot into the net.
Let than four minutes later, the Blue Jackets scored their third power play goal of the period with some great puck movement finding Fedor Tyutin at the right home and blasting a shot through Elliott's five hole. Based on Elliott's reaction, I think he believed he should have had the shot and I'm inclined to think most of the time he does.
At this point, we were quite surprised that Coach Hitchcock didn't pull a Mike Keenan and swap goalies for a shift, for the rest of the period or for the rest of the game. Someone needed to do something to wake the team up from their poor effort.
The Blue rebounded before the end of the period with Lindstrom scoring on a one-time on a short two on one with Paul Stastny with each getting their first point in a Blues uniform. Lindstrom did well to get the solid one-timer off as the pass wasn't in a perfect spot but he did well to handle it and score. More on him in a minute.
The Blue Jackets opened the scoring in the second period on a goal caused by miscommunication between Butler and Elliott behind the net and actually banked off them on a "shot" from behind the goal line. It was a very bizarre goal.
The Blues rallied with three unanswered goals with a deflection from Backes and two goals from Tarasenko, one on a great pass by Mueller and the other on a slick drop/behind the back pass from Lehtera with Cole assisting on both Tarasenko goals. Yet another game that proves you can't expect to play 30-40 minutes and win in the NHL, even in the preseason. Here were my notes right after the game.
-Tarasenko with two goals and two drawn penalties; playing almost five minutes on the power play and over three minutes on the penalty kill
-Cole with two assists and a plus three while playing almost 18 minutes
-Lehtera with an assist, 50% in the face off circle and playing almost 20 minutes with over five minutes on the power play and three minutes on the penalty kill
-Lindstrom with his first goal and playing over 17 minutes
-Lindbohm with over 19 minutes of ice time and a plus two.
- Muller with under 14 minutes of ice time even with almost four minutes of power play time
- Paajarvi with under 12 minutes of ice time and four penalty minutes even though he led the team in takeaways and had an assist
- Fraser with under eight minutes of ice time even though he was 78% in the face off circle
- Butler being negative yet again and playing 20% less even strength minutes than Prosser
- Bad penalties and a bad start
Observations (ignoring the obvious AHLers):
- Cole showed he really is a cut above Prosser and Butler.
- Prosser played a much more solid game than Butler and should be edging him out at this point.
- Lindbohm played a better game than Prosser and Butler but needs to log big minutes so he can continue to develop. I predict he gets a longer look but doesn't make the team. It isn't completely insane to think he could surpass all of the AHL defensemen and become the call up by the spring.
- Mueller has the hands to play in the NHL but his skating and speed seems poor. Can you afford to keep him as a shootout and power play specialist who only plays about 13 minutes a night?
- The coaching staff needs to talk to Backes about picking his spots to fight and this preseason game wasn't one of them. Someone please show him the Clarkson reports about seeing a facial specialist and tell him to save it for the regular season (Seabrook) or the playoffs and let that stuff to the Reaves, Lapierre, and Beach's of the world.
- MPS penalties are not going to help his cause in trying to find a regular role on the team.
- Tarasenko and Lehtera looked good together. Tarasenko might just be very special.
- I expect Lindstrom to make the team and be a regular player. This could be a very good depth signing.
- Fraser looks like a depth AHL signing at best.