Boy, didn't this one feel familiar?
I know what you were thinking after Matt Moulson gave the Islanders a 2-0 lead late in the second period. Things did not look good for the Blue Jackets at the time and a two-goal rally was going to be quite the task in the final 20 minutes. But as they did many times last season, they kept the deficit manageable and gave themselves an opportunity to chip away.
The power play stepped up and delivered a huge goal - exactly what Todd Richards and his staff want to see from that unit - and began to reverse the flow a bit. Letestu's snap wrister not only brought the Blue Jackets within a goal but it gave them a real sense of belief that a comeback was in the cards, and Letestu said as much after the game. Despite some cases of lopsided play, the Blue Jackets were never "out of control" in this game. They just needed something to get them going and the power play did just that.
So, what went right and what went wrong? Let's talk it out...
The Blue Jackets did not have their best tonight. They did not bring the same game that nearly got them into the Stanley Cup playoffs last spring, and they were a bit timid and sloppy out of the gate on opening night at Nationwide Arena.
But, they did a fine job in righting the ship late in the first period and seemed to have things straightened out early in the second period. They got back to their heavy forechecking game and forced the Flames defense into mistakes, but were unable to beat Joey MacDonald for a third time until the waning minutes of regulation.
Richards said post-game that there's no sense in feeling sorry about this game, and for good reason: the Blue Jackets are right back on the ice tomorrow night, and will serve as the opening night guests of the New York Islanders. They face another fast team that likes to push the pace, and right now, there's no better remedy than to get back at it (and in short order).
So, what went well and what didn't go all that great? Here are some post-game nuggets...
The first morning skate of the 2013-14 Blue Jackets season is in the books.
Opening night is mere hours away and the mood throughout the locker room is one of high anticipation. The players have sat around the last three days, watching other NHL teams get their seasons started and it has made them more than ready to drop the puck tonight against Calgary.
Here's what you already know: Sergei Bobrovsky is tonight's starting goaltender for the Blue Jackets. We'll wait and see from the Flames side, but Karri Ramo played last night in their 5-4 shootout loss in Washington. It could mean a start for veteran Joey MacDonald, but nothing is set in stone just yet.
Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards confirmed that Fedor Tyutin will not play tonight. In his spot, David Savard draws in over Tim Erixon. The decision wasn't an easy one, but Richards' reasoning: "we all thought (the coaching staff) that David had a better camp than Tim."
Read on for tonight's Blue Jackets lineup, injury updates & more...
This is becoming a familiar refrain: the Blue Jackets spent the majority of their Wednesday morning practice focusing on the power play.
Todd Richards has spoken at length about the topic since training camp began, re-stating the emphasis he and his coaching staff have put on making sure they don't go through the same man-advantage struggles that they did last season.
From day one of camp, the power play has been a front-burner issue and they haven't relented since.
And when you look around the NHL, there's a constant: teams with really good power plays (and not necessarily those with high efficiency rates, but those who can use their power play to make a difference in the game) tend to do well in the long run. The Blue Jackets want to be one of those teams that takes advantage of mistakes by the opponent, and if teams parade to the penalty box, Richards wants his group to pounce.
After Monday's practice, Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards hoped he would have the majority of his injured players back for today's skate.
The good news is that he did. Artem Anisimov was back, Nikita Nikitin as well, and Marian Gaborik returned from Slovakia where he was attending his grandmother's funeral. The lone absence today was Jared Boll, who skated on his own after the team practice and has yet to be ruled out for opening night.
You know what means, right? The Blue Jackets went through an hour-long practice and used a new set of line combinations, presumably some of the trios they hope to employ on opening night against Calgary. They worked on the power play - and really, few days have gone by without hammering away at it - and touched on a few more systematic things on their second day of a four-day practice week.
And so, it begins.
The Blue Jackets took the ice this morning for an hour-plus practice on the main ice at Nationwide Arena, beginning final preparations for their opening night showdown with the Calgary Flames. It was very business-like today for Todd Richards and his coaching staff, hitting hard on some systems items and also getting the players revved back up after a light weekend.
First, some housekeeping items: the Blue Jackets were without Artem Anisimov (day-to-day), Nikita Nikitin (illness), Marian Gaborik (personal) and Jared Boll (upper body) for today's skate. According to Richards, three of the four - save for Boll - are expected back in the coming days if all goes well. Richards wasn't ready to rule out Boll for opening night, but he admitted it was a bit of a long shot.
Derek MacKenzie returned to practice today and it's a step in the right direction for his recovery. He sported a red non-contact sweater and didn't skate with a set line, but took part in several drills and looked good in his first practice back.