Jaroslav Halak made 37 saves and the Islanders, winners of four in a row defeated the Columbus Blue Jackets by a score of 4-0. The Blue Jackets are now 0-7 to start the season and it may have already ended last night. The last team to start the season 0-7 were the 97-98 Chicago Blackhawks and they finished with 73 points. Thomas Hickey, John Tavares, Cal Clutterbuck and Nikolay Kulemin all scored for the Islanders.
Halak recorded his 37th career shutout and in my opinion, was the difference in the game. The Columbus Blue Jackets record does not do them any justice. Their lineup is very good and I thought their effort was very good last night, but in the end the Islanders had the better goaltender. The Blue Jackets had their chances to capitalize on three power play opportunities in the third period , but couldn’t get anything done and were basically deflated when Thomas Hickey scored to make it 2-0. The Islanders then rode the momentum for the rest of the game. The Islanders record now stands at 4-1-1.
For the Islanders, dispatching the Blue Jackets this early in the season wasn’t even a thought to any one. As I wrote above, getting back into a season where a team starts 0-7 is a rare one, but having seven out of your next eight on the road is even more of an uphill climb. This is a conference that needed 98 points to make the playoffs last year and teams on a losing streak like Columbus this year and Buffalo last year could be playing without any pressure starting around Thanksgiving with zero shot at the playoffs. I usually never start crossing out teams in the playoff hunt until game 31. The Blue Jackets now have 24 games left to make something happen or they’ll be marked off quickly. For the Islanders, they may have just knocked one team out of the playoff race. Now they have to see who is going to rise and take advantage of this opportunity.
UPDATE!!! 10:50AM. Blue jackets have fired head coach Todd Richards and replace him with John Tortorella. Now that’s desperation.