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Advance Scout, Columbus Blue Jackets: Next Islanders Foe another Metro Struggler

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The Tour of Ugly Metro Teams continues in Columbus on Saturday.

Ohio Islanders congratulate an Ohio Ranger.
Ohio Islanders congratulate an Ohio Ranger.
Jeff Gross

Woe, oh woe, the Metro.

The Islanders are 0-2 on this four-game trip, having lost in Raleigh to their Metro neighbor Carolina Hurricanes squad that had just broken a five-game losing streak with a win over... fellow Metro stragglers the Philadelphia Flyers.

Next up for the Islanders, in the first of a road back-to-back this weekend, are the Columbus Blue Jackets (5-10-0) on Saturday. In a familiar theme, this Metropolitan Division squad has also lost five in a row. Their fifth was a favor to help yet another stumbling Metro team, the Rangers, recover from their ugly start to the season.

(It's not forgotten that the Rangers began their own rebound when Carl Hagelin returned in time to beat the Islanders in a close but painful one at Nassau Coliseum. In fact, if we're keeping score, in their first Metro tour the Isles have beaten the Devils and Penguins, but lost to the Blue Jackets, Hurricanes (twice), Rangers, Flyers and Capitals.)

So most teams in the Metro stink. Only three are even at NHL quasi-.500 or better. Only two have a positive goal differential. Most of them recover only by beating one another -- New Jersey also got a feel-good 3-0 win over Philadelphia the other night.

But for us, a brief look at what things are like in Columbus:

The Blue Jackets have lost five straight games and haven’t had a lead for nearly 14 periods. In what could have been a combustible evening at Nationwide Arena, the best fireworks were saved for after a 4-2 loss to the New York Rangers.

After the game, coach Todd Richards tore into his players, telling them that he was done coddling and waiting for them to get going.

"That was embarrassing hockey. Embarrassing hockey," Richards said.

--Columbus Dispatch

How about our SB Nation friends at The Cannon, how are they taking it?

"They'll get back on track."

Didn't I write about this last year? (Yep: The Blue Jackets have a decision making problem.)

"It's too early to panic."

From 1-30, this team is in 26th place. 17 points out of first and 3 points out of last place. Florida just fired their coach – they have the same number of points as the CBJ.

The Islanders are five points better (after 16 games instead of 15), so things aren't quite as dire. Not yet, maybe not ever. An ugly game in Washington was followed by a decent but futile effort in Raleigh, so the challenge is not to get fully discouraged when the hockey gods deliver a 21-save shutout by Justin Peters.

But you see where the win a game, lose a game pattern has them in a precarious position made firm only by the mercy of their fellow Metro bumblers.

The Jackets' players sound like Any Given Slumping Team on Any Given Day in the NHL, but at the same time...

"We should be clicking on all cylinders at this point," defenseman Jack Johnson said. "There should be no gray areas. But the second period, we were all out of sync. You can’t afford to throw away 20 minutes like that." all sounds scarily familiar.

"It doesn’t matter about X’s and O’s or what we need to do systematically," center Brandon Dubinsky said. "The work ethic just isn’t there. It should be the easiest thing to correct. I mean, really, it’s just embarrassing that we choose not to. I don’t know why. It’s flat-out embarrassing for us, the fans and the organization."

Okay, not quite that familiar. The Isles are questioning their own work ethic just yet. But they'll need all of it Saturday against a desperate team that will want to avoid a second consecutive embarrassment on home ice.

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