December has not been kind to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
“December is the big month in the NHL schedule for everybody,” Jackets coach Scott Arniel said. “This is an important month. Not off to a very good start.”
The Blue Jackets have lost five consecutive games, including all three games in December. Last December, the Blue Jackets went 2-9-5.
“I don’t care what happened last season,” Blue Jackets defenseman Mike Commodore said. “Honestly, I don’t give a s—. It’s a new season, we’ve lost a couple games in a row — big deal.”
Forward R.J. Umberger said he thinks the team is frustrated but not dead.
“I think any team would be a little frustrated when you lose five in a row, when you lose a couple big games,” Umberger said. “How do you respond to it? We still control our own destiny — it’s December.”
Commodore and Umberger’s frustrations came after Saturday’s 7-2 home loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, which was preceded by a 5-0 loss against the Buffalo Sabres on Friday in Buffalo.
Arniel managed to find some positives in the game against the Penguins.
The team has allowed six goals while on the penalty kill in the last two games. Commodore could not explain the weekend’s penalty-killing woes.
“Every once in a while, the pucks are going to go in,” Commodore said. “That’s just how it is, and they’ve gone in the last two nights.”
Commodore said he thinks the team might be mentally fragile amid the string of losses, but it is not an excuse to keep losing.
“There’s no point in sitting around and sulking about it,” he said. “We have to keep working, and I think we’ll come together.”
Arniel said he and the staff need to work with the players to get their minds set on winning.
“It’s part of what coaching is,” Arniel said. “I have to try to change the psyche of players and (not) think that just because they gave up a goal the game’s over, or if you lose a game, it’s the end of the year.”
Arniel said the losing streak stems from poor play in many facets of the game.
“The power play obviously at home (has) been a big one,” Arniel said. “We were one of the best goals-against teams in the league. When you’re losing, you can nitpick like crazy.”
But Arniel said he wants to put the poor play behind him and focus on the Dallas Stars, who play in Columbus tonight.
“I just want to win Monday night. That’s all I care about,” Arniel said. “I don’t care what’s already happened. I care about Monday night.”