No matter how you look at the 2020-21 season for the Columbus Blue Jackets, it has not been good by any standards. It’s been full of disappointing moments. Their best laid plans for a successful season went south in a hurry.
Whether it was trading your number one center after he basically quit on the team or having his replacement in Patrik Laine struggle as bad as he ever has in his young NHL career, the Blue Jackets have not had many shining moments to remember from this season. This season cannot end soon enough for them.
If anything, the Blue Jackets were looking for something, anything to lean on to help them get to the end of this miserable season. Even the smallest thing to smile about would make a huge difference. Being down 3-0 after two periods to the Nashville Predators this past Monday seemed to reinforce the notion of just end this thing already.
But then something good happened that nobody saw coming.
It just felt like the Blue Jackets were in the midst of letting the clock run down so they can get out of Monday’s game. Then Emil Bemstrom scored his long-awaited first goal of the season. After a review, the goal stood and finally, the monkey came off of his back.
Bemstrom has had numerous chances to score only to find ways to miss. Couple that with the six weeks he missed due to a nagging lower-body injury that wasn’t healing and you had a player wondering if he’d ever score again.
That moment alone would have been something to smile about had the final score been 3-1. But then Bemstrom scored the next two goals to tie the game.
The reaction on the bench was a season’s worth of frustration let loose in celebration. The Blue Jackets finally had a moment where they could enjoy what was going on. For a small period of time, it was fun. Fun as been absent for a vast majority of this season.
The Predators did go on to win Monday night in overtime, but the Blue Jackets had something to hang their hat on. A natural hat trick in the third period of a game that in which the Predators had their playoff lives on the line brought an unexpected level of drama to the playoff race. Fans in Dallas were enjoying what transpired for a small period of time.
The Blue Jackets were successfully able to build off of Monday’s OT loss by handing the Predators a 4-2 regulation loss on Wednesday. Oliver Bjorkstrand connected twice while Elvis Merzlikins held the fort to give his team a much-needed win.
Winning is always fun. But it’s what Merzlikins talked about after the game that showed there was still some fun to be had. All he could think about during the Predators’ timeout was scoring a goal. Seriously.
If you watch the replay, Merzlikins raced to the bench. He and coach John Tortorella had a conversation. He told Tortorella that he wanted to score a goal and that he was sorry if he messed it up. In classic Tortorella style, he had quite the quote back to Merzlikins.
“I don’t care what the eff you do, just don’t eff it up,” Tortorella told Merzlikins. He even enjoyed a smile while sharing this. To take it one step further, Tortorella then said “Did you see him race to me? I don’t think I’ve ever seen him skate that fast.”
Merzlikins is clearly showing his personality even when there isn’t much to celebrate. He once again did a ghost jump hug after the win Wednesday. It’s his tribute to traded-captain Nick Foligno.
Even in a lost season, the Blue Jackets have found some ways to have a little fun at the end. It’s important that they get these moments to remind themselves that hockey can be fun. They get two more chances to have a little fun Friday and Saturday before their season comes to a close.
What kind of antics are we in for? I guess we’ll have to watch to find out.