Sabres Embarrass the Jackets

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The Blue Jackets played – and lost – their third game in four nights on Wednesday, this time we saw the Sabres embarrass the Jackets 9-4. In what can only be described as one of the worst performances in the history of the franchise, the Jackets gave up 6 first period goals and were well out of the game before even registering a shot on net.

Wow, what a difference a week makes. Last week, it seemed like this group was making progress after being embarrassed in a game against the Detroit Red Wings. They came out the very next night and dropped a very good Florida Panthers team. They lost two very hard-fought games against the Islanders and Canadiens – then beat a second place (now first place) Winnipeg Jets team on the road.

Then it’s almost like they crumpled up that page of their story and threw it in the garbage. Which, coincidentally, is exactly how they played last night. Let’s recap this most recent stretch, painful as it may be.

Dec 7, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Patrik Laine (29) celebrates his goal against the Buffalo Sabres during the second period at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

First, they found themselves down 3-0 to those same Red Wings on Sunday, which meant they’d given up 8 straight goals to the Wings, when you combine the game on November 19. Give credit where it’s due; they battled back and made a game of it, cutting the lead to 3-2 early in the third before Andrew Copp buried the dagger just 4:10 later.

Tuesday night brought a road trip to Pittsburgh, a place where the Jackets haven’t won a game since 2015. If you’ve watched them play the Penguins over the years, you know the story. Jackets dominate early, even take an early lead. But the Penguins marched back on the backs of – you guessed it – Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

PITTSBURGH, PA – DECEMBER 06: Rickard Rakell #67 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates with the puck as Cole Sillinger #34 of the Columbus Blue Jackets defends in the third period during the game at PPG PAINTS Arena on December 6, 2022 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)

An ugly goal while attempting to pull the goalie saw this game end 4-1, but really the young Jackets weren’t all that bad. They were just simply out-matched. As fans, I think we can live with that. They put up the good fight.

Wednesday night, however, they did not put up the good fight. They didn’t even put up much of a bad fight, aside from Sean Kuraly. They just didn’t fight at all. As fans, there is no way we should be expected to live with this kind of performance. With a small market team, we get one, maybe two – if we make the playoffs, three or four nationally televised games per year. This was our chance to show off our new and improved roster, with Johnny Gaudreau headlining the game.

COLUMBUS, OH – DECEMBER 07: Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen #1 of the Buffalo Sabres is congratulated by Zemgus Girgensons #28 after defeating the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on December 7, 2022 in Columbus, Ohio. Buffalo defeated Columbus 9-4. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

They even gave us an easy lay-up game against Buffalo. That isn’t to say they’re an easy win, but they are a team in a similar situation as the Jackets. They’re very young, still in the midst of their rebuild. In fact, they’re only 7 points ahead of the Jackets – with the Jackets playing one fewer game. And this performance is what we get?

We were the laughing stock of the NHL last night. Twitter was wild, everyone had a comment to make. And oh, they made them. It’s not as though hockey Twitter needed any more reason to dump on one of the worst teams in the league, but there, on a primetime stage, our guys gave it to them.

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