Straight Jackets: Everybody's hurt ... sometimes

Jim Fischer
Columbus Alive
Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo reaches for the puck during a game against the Washington Capitals on Dec. 9. Korpisalo is out indefinitely with an injury.

The 2019-2020 Columbus Blue Jackets season has become a slightly modified version of a 1992 R.E.M ballad: Everybody's hurt.

Yes, that's a long way to go for a cheap play on words, but what's left with this season? The frustration is catching up with Head Coach John Tortorella, if his post-game comments following Sunday's 2-3 shootout loss to Chicago are any indication (more on that later).

The organization tried to cope with the expected-but-still-stinging losses of three key players in last season's first-ever playoff series win by casting those who remained as a band of true believers in the city, the team and each other. That ended up looking petty and was ultimately dropped as the Jackets sputtered to start the season (perhaps "Loyalty" was never intended to be a season-long marketing effort).

Then, the litany of injuries took over. And took a toll. No continuity and a deficient roster (in some respects) was going to keep the team from salvaging any hopes at a playoff run, and perhaps even its dignity.

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John Anderson. Ryan Murray. Alexandre Texier. Emil Bemstrom. Markus Nutivaara. Zach Werenski. Sonny Milano. Andrew Peeke. Cam Atkinson. Oliver Bjorkstrand. All have spent chunks of time on injured reserve this season, and most are still out. (Heck, even TV color analyst and former Jacket Jody Shelley had an emergency appendectomy.)

But something funny happened in the past few weeks. Goaltender Joonas Korpisalo was playing lights out, and a roster that included players who'd started the season in Cleveland (Columbus' AHL affiliate), or who'd spent most of the season with the Monsters (Eric Robinson, Marko Dano, Nathan Gerbe, Kevin Stenlund, Ryan MacInnis, Gabriel Carlsson, Andreas Lilja, Adam Clendening), was doing more than holding its own. This roster was winning.

But it wasn't winning easily, or in aesthetically pleasing fashion.

And then, Sunday's game with the Blackhawks.

After building a 2-0 lead, the Jackets faltered, surrendering the tying goal in the third period. An issue with clock stoppage late in the period, in which it appeared game officials should have added 1.1 seconds back on the clock but did not, had an almost-unbelievable impact on the game. Werenski scored at the buzzer, but replay showed the clock had hit 0.0 prior to the puck crossing the line. But, you guessed it, less than 1.1 seconds after.

After a scoreless overtime period, Korpisalo had to be helped from the ice after suffering some sort of leg injury during the shootout. Injury added to insult.

Tortorella went off on the officials, both on-ice and at the league's Toronto headquarters, in his post-game comments, after which he declined to take questions. There will certainly be some sort of punishment in store for the coach, but you can't help but feel like Torts was standing up for his team here — that, after all his squad has battled this season, it doesn't seem right to lose a game and a goalie due to officiating incompetence.

Seriously, what else with this season?