Not the Time for Columbus Blue Jackets Panic, Yet

Jarmo Kekalainen
BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 25: Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen attends the 2016 NHL Draft on June 25, 2016 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The Columbus Blue Jackets play has extremely regressed going 4-4-2 in their last ten games and going 7-9-2 in the 18 games since the beginning of December. This recent performance has raised the question “Should the Columbus Blue Jackets panic?”

Not the Time for Columbus Blue Jackets Panic, Yet

Coming into this season many experts predicted the Blue Jackets would regress. However, the experts thought the Blue Jackets would be a wild card team. To this point in the season, Columbus currently holds the third spot in the Eastern Conference. That may seem like Columbus is right on track, however, the Blue Jackets jumped out to the best start in franchise history. It seemed like the team proved they could be a Stanley Cup contender.

The Offensive Struggles

With how the Blue Jackets have played recently their playoff spot is in serious danger. In the 18 games since December the Blue Jackets have been shutout twice. The offence has not been consistent outside of the Artemi Panarin, Josh Anderson and Pierre-Luc Dubois. This line has carried the Blue Jackets for the majority of the season, but it cannot be that way heading into the post-season. When teams that have one good line face against Stanley Cup Contenders, the outcome normally favours the other team. Creating and executing a game plan to focus on one line is a lot easier than dealing with a team that has multiple scoring threats.

Key player points totals have decreased drastically this season compared to last. Players like captain Nick Foligno, Cam Atkinson, and Boone Jenner need to step up for the Blue Jackets to be firing on all cylinders. All three player are in the midst of disappointing seasons to this point. Coming into this season Foligno, Atkinson and Jenner were supposed to be three of the main players for Columbus. Getting the production that was expected out of them in the second half of the season would go a long way in moving the Jackets from playoff battle to Cup Contender.

Defensive Issues

Lately, the Blue Jackets have seemed to find some success on the power-play, but it has been inconsistent at best. However, their recent play was good enough to bring them out of last place in the league in power-play percentage. The Blue Jackets are currently 30th in the league .2 percent in front of Buffalo scoring 12.6 percent of the time.

The offence has not been the only issues plaguing Columbus during this stretch. The Blue Jackets have given up four or more goals 11 times in their last 18 games. This is a result of the defense suffering injuries. Ryan Murray has been out the entire stretch, and Zach Werenski has been injured for a major part of it. While Sergei Bobrovsky has been in net for 15 of the 18 games, it is not his fault. When there are injuries of the significance of Murray and Werenski it throws the defence out of rhythm.

It is too early for Jarmo Kekalainen to press the panic button. If results continue like they have into February and close to the trade deadline they might be forced to make a big move. A big move could spark a run that might be a critical time in the season. A player like Boone Jenner or Ryan Murray might find himself on the move to bring in a key player. Columbus is looking to make the playoffs for consecutive seasons for the first in franchise history. To do that they need to step up their game or find a player that can spark a run.


Main Photo: BUFFALO, NY РJUNE 25: Columbus Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen attends the 2016 NHL Draft on June 25, 2016 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)