November 24th: 4-2 loss at Pittsburgh
Rivalry night in Ohio. The Ohio State Buckeyes started the day off on the right foot with a huge win over that team up north but the Jackets couldn’t follow suit in Pittsburgh. The Penguins, who have started the year off very slowly, yet again defeated the Jackets on their home ice.
The Pens, fueled by a Jake Guentzel hat trick end the Jackets week on a sour note. A combination of the Jackets poor play and Penguins domination led to a performance that the men in union blue will soon want to forget about.
No one on the team played particularly well for the Jackets besides Seth Jones. The offense couldn’t generate any high danger chances and Sidney Crosby and Co. torched the Jackets all night long. Crosby assisted on all two of Guentzel’s goals.
Scott Harrington’s first goal of the season gave the Jackets an early lead in the first period but three goals in ten minutes gave the Pens the game.
Cam Atkinson was able to extend his goal streak with a tuck in the second but it wouldn’t matter in the end. The Pens pulled out a 4-2 win.
This game was a tough reminder that the Jackets still have a ways to go if they hope to be considered one of the NHL’s best teams. It’s also a sobering reminder that despite their lowly record, the Pens can turn it on any time they want and still should be considered one of the best squads in the NHL.
Overall the Jackets are 3-3 in their six matchups against Stanley Cup contenders. Five of the six matchups have come on the road which makes the .500 record a bit more respectable. They have played just average hockey all-in-all over their six true test of the season though.
The Jackets still are taking periods off in these big time games which is a luxury they just can’t afford. The Penguins, Lightning, and Leafs can, and have, got away with that sort of play but the Jackets just don’t have the talent up and down the roster to be able to get away with that.
The Jackets cumulative grade over their six test is a B- for me. They haven’t consistently competed at the level they need to in wins or losses, but they are close. The question is whether they can raise their compete level over the next four months in their matchups against Stanley Cup contenders and put themselves in that conversation with big wins.
Their next chance to do so will be December 8th when the Washington Capitals come to town for a Saturday night showdown.