Adam Fantilli Stands Out in Blue Jacket Loss to Anaheim

COLUMBUS, OHIO - OCTOBER 24: Adam Fantilli #11 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates with the puck during the first period against the Anaheim Ducks at Nationwide Arena on October 24, 2023 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Mowry/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OHIO - OCTOBER 24: Adam Fantilli #11 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates with the puck during the first period against the Anaheim Ducks at Nationwide Arena on October 24, 2023 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Mowry/Getty Images) /
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The Columbus Blue Jackets lost a 3-2 game in overtime to the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday night. It’s a result we would all love to change, but there is one really positive take away: Adam Fantilli stood out.

It was a game the Jackets probably should have won, both theoretically speaking and looking at the game footage in hindsight. The Ducks have what should be one of the worst teams in the NHL this season, and started the year with a 1-4-0 record which reflected that thought. They came into Nationwide Arena last night on a three game skid, a stretch in which they only scored four goals.

The Jackets were on a two-game winning streak, having defeated two playoff-caliber teams over the weekend. The odds of a three-game streak seemed in their favor, and the game really looked like it should have gone their way. They generated seven (!) power-plays, controlling the pace for much of the game. But they could not take advantage, getting just one extra man goal from Emil Bemstrom.

Ultimately, the Ducks took this one because they were able to take advantage of three transitional mistakes from the Blue Jackets, scoring goals each time. Odd-man rushes continue to plague the good guys, and it’s something that the coaching staff will have to help the team improve upon.

But it wasn’t all bad. We were treated to a tremendous showing from our exciting future #1 center, Adam Fantilli. He played over 19 minutes (5th amongst CBJ forwards), earning his first multi-point game (1 goal, 1 assist); and he looked dangerous nearly every time he was on the ice. In Bemstrom’s goal (video above), watch as he picks up the puck and draws the high forward all the way to the far point, freeing up Ivan Provorov and Bemstrom for what was essentially a 2-on-1. It’s an easy one-timer goal, all things considered. Then, when the game was tied late, he decided to take over:

This is exactly what you want from a #1 center. He’s in the play defensively; but as soon as the puck is turned over, he gets his feet moving and creates separation. He backs the defender off, gains the blue line, and draws the puck into his body and fires a release that Duck goaltender Lukas Dostal never saw coming, beating him far side. If you’ve played the game before, you should know how difficult it is to put that kind of velocity on a puck fired from in tight like that. It’s an impressive goal, all around.

Even aside from the two points, I thought Fantilli was the best player on the ice for either team. There was another shift in the third period where he took the puck in his defensive zone, lugged it up the ice, gained entry while surrounded by three Ducks; and then circled the offensive zone before dishing it off to a wide open teammate.

COLUMBUS, OHIO – OCTOBER 20: Adam Fantilli #11 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates with the puck during the second period against the Calgary Flames at Nationwide Arena on October 20, 2023 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Mowry/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OHIO – OCTOBER 20: Adam Fantilli #11 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates with the puck during the second period against the Calgary Flames at Nationwide Arena on October 20, 2023 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Mowry/Getty Images) /

We are starting to see flashes of play that made Adam last year’s Hobey Baker Award winner; and the third overall pick of the NHL Draft. He earned the chance to play the first shift in overtime; even winning the opening draw (he was 6 for 12 on the night). Suddenly, six games into his NHL career, he has four points … and it looks like he’s emerging as this team’s best option down the middle, sooner than we expected. Hopefully he keeps up his stellar play.

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