Once again, the Columbus Blue Jackets have limped out of the gates.
Heading into Friday’s clash with the visiting Calgary Flames, the Blue Jackets have a 1-2-0 record and have been outscored 11-7, with the latest defeat a 4-0 thumping at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings on Monday.
The Blue Jackets have had plenty of time to stew about their performance while preparing to face a Flames team that arrives after a 4-3 road win over the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday.
“We didn’t like our compete level, which sucks to be talking about because that should be expected — but we’ve got to get better at that,” Columbus forward Sean Kuraly said. “Puck management is a big thing for us. And we’ve been talking about it from Day 1 — and that’s the same on every team. I think that’s where the frustration comes in with us: our puck management. We’re going to have to get better at that.”
The Blue Jackets, who are finishing a four-game homestand to start the season, have surrendered the first goal in all three games they have played thus far.
Adding to their woes is an inability to stick with the game plan after falling behind.
“It’s the mindset of, ‘How do we face adversity?'” said Columbus coach Pascal Vincent, who made a bold move in benching veteran defenseman Damon Severson for the entire third period against Detroit. “We tried to play too cute. The stick battles instead of taking the body. Just a simple foundation of a hockey game. They were winning more battles than we did. So, it means they have the puck and they can make plays.”
The Flames, who are playing the fourth contest in a five-game road trip, snapped a two-game skid in Buffalo, where they have won six consecutive games. Calgary surrendered the lead on three occasions before Adam Ruzicka’s early third-period goal held up as the game-winner.
“We stuck together and it made us win,” said Ruzicka, who has goals in back-to-back games after snapping a 32-game scoreless drought Monday in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Washington Capitals.
That said, Calgary felt it deserved better results in both of its losses, which came against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Capitals. But it was finally rewarded in Buffalo on a night when it had four different goal scorers and a dozen players earn points.
“I think every game we’ve been the better team,” Ruzicka said. “We’ve just got to keep working on the little details of the game, and I think we’re gonna be one of the top teams in the league.”
Flames forward Blake Coleman agreed.
“We’ve been building the right way, and I think we deserved to finally get a road win,” Coleman said. “I think we’ve gotten better each game as we’ve gone here. Maybe a little bit of chemistry is starting to form.”
After No. 2 goalie Dan Vladar earned the win in his first action of the season, the Flames are expected to turn to top netminder Jacob Markstrom against the Jackets.