Should Columbus Waive the White Flag?
This NHL season is almost 1/5th old, which is hard to believe. The dreaded Thanksgiving mark is approaching, a time in which GMs have stated that if you are not on the bubble for the playoff race, you don’t have a great shot at making it in April. For teams like Buffalo, Carolina and Florida this could be expected, but one team in particular sits at the bottom of the league, only ahead of the aforementioned Buffalo Sabres, and it is not what they were expecting. The Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Blue Jackets came off a big leap last year, making the playoffs and winning their first ever playoff game in franchise history. Sergei Bobrovsky continued to play amazing, Ryan Johansen finally broke out, and Brandon Dubinsky emerged into a great leader. But this year, they have started 4-9-1, 29th in the league and last in the Metropolitan by two points, 5 behind the Rangers. Although the gap is not big right now, things will only go downhill from here, especially as the Rangers get their defense back, and New Jersey gets the scoring back. The Blue Jackets have lost many main pieces of their team for the start of the year, including Boone Jenner (who is back), Artem Anisimov, Mark Letestu, Sergei Bobrovsky, James Wisniewski, Brandon Dubinsky, Matt Calvert, and Ryan Murray. Jack Johnson has also been suspended, and Nathan Horton’s career is in jeopardy after suffering complications with his back. Many of these players are inching back, minus Horton, and Bobrovsky could be ready as early as Friday.
But, is it time to shut it down? The goals against, which currently sits tied for 29th at 51 will certainly get better as the defense returns and Bobrovsky gets back into the crease, but they are also having a tough time scoring goals, sitting at 23rd with 36 for.
Things are concerning in Ohio, plain and simple. There’s still ample time to turn it around as their lineup reaches full health, or at least as full as they get with Horton. If things don’t start to look up by the end of the month, they are not in bad shape at all, despite having to swallow the fact that they regressed this year. They have many moveable pieces, especially good because of the depth in this years’ draft. This includes Mark Letestu, a UFA this year, who is a good leader. Fedor Tyutin could go as well, and if they really want to, which I doubt the will, could move Nick Foligno for a very good return.
This a Blue Jackets team has clawed and fought before, and won’t stop now just because of injuries. If they continue to drag on, they’ll be right back in it next year, better than ever with a revamped prospect system. Keep your heads up, Ohio.