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What in the World is Going On with the Columbus Blue Jackets?!

Despite a huge offseason, the Columbus Blue Jackets are off to an immensely disappointing start to their 2022-23 season

By Clyde E. DawkinsPublished 3 months ago 5 min read
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The Blue Jackets are 31st in the entire NHL

I've always been fascinated by the Columbus Blue Jackets, even before the team officially debuted. It was back in 1998 (the year that the Nashville Predators debuted in the NHL) that I learned about Columbus getting an NHL franchise. That was a pretty fun period for me as a hockey fan, because I had never seen expansion like this in any sport. The Predators debuted in 1998, and a year later, the NHL returned to Atlanta with the Thrashers (they would move to Winnipeg in 2011), and 2000 gave us two teams: the Minnesota Wild (bringing the NHL back to Minnesota for the first time in seven years) and the aforementioned Blue Jackets.

The state of Ohio didn't have a lot of NHL experience. Before the Blue Jackets debuted, the NHL had the Cleveland Barons, who originally played in California's Bay Area as the Oakland Seals and the California Golden Seals, with the Barons playing in Cleveland for the final two seasons of their existence. The Blue Jackets were part of the Western Conference's Central Division from their 2000 debut until the 2013-14 season, which would see the team move to the Eastern Conference and placed in the Metropolitan Division. The team returned to the Central Division during the shortened 2020-21 season, which saw localized divisions for that season only.

The Blue Jackets' playoff history is brief and mostly unsuccessful, but it's also very interesting. They would get their first taste of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the 2008-09 season, which was their ninth in existence and their eighth in play. That's not bad. However, they would be swept in Round 1 by the then-defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Detroit Red Wings, who returned to the Final that year. 2013-14 would see the Jackets back in the playoffs, and it was Game Two of the Metropolitan Division Semifinals against the Pittsburgh Penguins that served as a historic moment for the franchise. The game went to overtime, and when Matt Calvert scored, he gave the Jackets their first playoff game victory in team history. The Jackets won Game Four of that same series, but that was it; they were eliminated in six games.

The Jackets suffered two more first round exits in 2017 and 2018, but then there was 2019. The Jackets were the last team to clinch a playoff spot that season, and again, they were one of the Eastern Conference's two Wild Cards. They went up against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Atlantic Division Semifinals, but it wasn't just any Lightning team. This team won 62 games (tying the league record), racked up 128 points (three points shy of the league record), and had award finalists at nearly every position. The Jackets were supposed to get killed in that series. Instead...the complete opposite happened!!! The Blue Jackets swept the Lightning in that series. They trailed early in Game One, came back and won, and never, ever looked back. They pulled off the impossible, even by NHL standards. The Jackets won a series for the first time in franchise history, and what a way to do it. They even had a 2-1 series lead in the Atlantic Division Final, but the Boston Bruins would win the next three games. The 2020 bubble saw the Jackets defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs in the best-of-five Qualifying Round (in Toronto, no less), but they were defeated soundly by the aforementioned Lightning.

Johnny Gaudreau signed a seven-year deal with the Blue Jackets

Which brings me to this season. The Blue Jackets' flair for the shocking continued with this past offseason, when they signed Johnny Gaudreau. That's right: the Columbus Blue Jackets actually won the Johnny Hockey sweepstakes over teams such as the New York Islanders and Gaudreau's home team, the New Jersey Devils. When word of that signing broke out, we all expected a huge paradigm shift. After all, Johnny Hockey was coming off a 115-point performance in what ended up being his final year with the Calgary Flames (40 G/75 A), where he served as one-third of that team's top line with Elias Lindholm and Matthew Tkachuk. Because of this, the Blue Jackets had expectations. They did lose Oliver Bjorkstrand to the Seattle Kraken, but even so, Columbus had a lot of star power entering this season, and they were going to shock the world.

Instead, what we received is a disappointing start to the season, which sees Columbus ranked #31 in the entire league (only the Anaheim Ducks are worse). Gaudreau is leading the way, but with 12 points (six of each) in 14 games, not a good start. In addition, Gaudreau is a -4, and this is after leading the league in Plus/Minus last season. Regarding the rest of the team, Boone Jenner (4 & 4) and Zach Werenski (3 G/5 A) each have eight points, with the latter's total leading Columbus' blueliners. Yegor Chinakov has seven points of his own, while Gus Nyquist, Jakub Voracek, and Jack Roslovic each have six. The Plus/Minuses, however, have been atrocious--too many negatives, and the best one is Even. Goaltending's even worse; Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins have GAAs that are just too high.

Also, the team is being hit with injuries; Werenski is out for the season, and now Patrik Laine will be sidelined for the next 3-4 weeks. I know it's early--the season's barely over a month old--but this is a catastrophe for the Blue Jackets. They do have plenty of time to overcome this and contend for a potential playoff spot. The question is: can they? Can they overcome whatever shortcomings they have and go on a winning tear? Or has Columbus' potential dream season manifested into a nightmare that they can't get out of?

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About the Creator

Clyde E. Dawkins

Born on March 18, 1985. I am an avid fan of sports and wrestling, and I've been a fan of female villains since the age of eight. Also love movies--especially comedy and horror--and among my favorite TV shows are The Simpsons and Family Guy

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