As the regular season begins to wind down, the clock looks like it’s about to strike midnight on the Cinderella story that is the Columbus Blue Jackets.
While there are other teams in contention that have been tremendous surprises this season, the Blue Jackets may be the league’s most surprising club. They were a laughingstock just a few weeks ago, and have managed to make some noise in this race to the postseason in the Western Conference.
Since firing Scott Howson, the Blue Jackets have taken off. They rode a very successful month of March to find themselves in the playoff picture. They made some noise at the trade deadline, in acquiring Marian Gaborik, which was a tremendous get for the organization.
Now the question will be whether or not they can actually get over the hump and grab that eighth seed, or if they’ve already peaked and should start looking at next year once again. It’s a question that looking more and more like the answer is going to be the latter.
The numbers indicate that things may not be looking too positive for the Blue Jackets down the stretch. They currently have a goal differential of minus-13. Only one contending team in each conference has a negative differential, and those teams are a combined minus-8.
This a team that currently ranks dead last in the league in goals per game. They’re currently hovering right around the middle of the pack in keeping the puck out of their own net. Neither of their special teams are anything to write home about, though their penalty kill is pretty decent.
The Blue Jackets have won three of their last eight, and have been shutout twice over that span. Not exactly a recipe for a postseason appearance.
Overall, this is a team that just isn’t there yet. They’ve made some impressive strides, no doubt. And it’s pretty clear that this front office has them headed in the right direction. But it looks like this team may have to kiss their playoff hopes goodbye in the very near future.