The Columbus Blue Jackets are not a bad team. Despite what their record indicates, I firmly believe the Jackets have a solid foundation and the talent to be a playoff team in the Eastern Conference.
I start with that comment because that’s not going to happen this year. Columbus is not making the playoffs and at their current pace, they might finish closer to the cellar than the Wild Card.
Whether its been injuries or poor streaks, Columbus has never been able to get it going this year. It’s unfortunate too. This was supposed to be the Jackets year.
Columbus entered this season coming off their second playoff appearance in franchise history, giving the Penguins more of a challenge than anybody could’ve expected in the first round. Attendance started to rise while buzz was growing across Central Ohio.
Add in the excitement about hosting the 2015 NHL All-Star Game, it just seemed like Columbus was finally going to have their breakout year. No more being satisfied with just making the playoffs. The Jackets were talking about becoming a contender.
Sadly for hockey fans in Ohio, none of that actually took place. The Jackets faced the injury bug unlike any team I’ve seen before, stumbling out to a 6-15-2 start.
They recovered from that though. They went 12-2-1 their next 15 games to improve to over .500 on the year. But a streak like that is tough to continue. As expected, the Jackets have leveled out and have been battling to find their groove ever since.
It doesn’t help that former Vezina winner Sergei Bobrovsky has been sidelined for the last 14 games due to a groin injury. With him out of the lineup, it’s not a pretty situation.
I will say that Curtis McElhinney has done a solid job stepping in for Bobrovsky. He’s gone 10-10-2 on the season with a .918 save percentage, which is actually pretty solid but the Jackets aren’t half the team they’re capable of being with Bobrovsky out of the lineup.
I was in Columbus Tuesday night covering the Jackets contest against the Buffalo Sabres only to see their unfortunate luck continue.
Entering the night, the Jackets had an opportunity to cut their Wild Card deficit down to nine points with a win. Taking on the cellar dwelling Sabres, it didn’t seem like it should be an incredibly difficult challenge.
Buffalo has been historically bad the past two years and has struggled to win on the road. So, what goes on to happen? The Jackets give backup goalie Anton Forsberg the start, he allows a soft goal early and Buffalo goes on to win 4-2.
It things like that, that go wrong when you’re having an unfortunate season like the Jackets are. Columbus had 47 shots in the game but managed to score only twice.
With 23 games left in the season, they’re still mathematically alive for the playoffs. They’re only 11 points back of Boston with one game on hand. Anything is possible but it would take an incredible streak and a tremendous reversal in luck for Columbus to make the postseason.
It’s not the year hockey fans here were hoping for but one season of bad luck and falling short of expectations shouldn’t shatter the dreams of hockey fans in Columbus.
This team still has a bright future and will keep at it. I’ve pointed out all of the negatives but the list of positives going into the future is even longer.
Don’t give up Jackets fans! Teams go through ups and downs. Columbus is no exception. The difference is it took all the bad luck in the world just to put the Jackets in this situation.
That luck will eventually turn around and when it does, be ready Blue Jackets fans because it’s going to be worth the wait!