With New Year’s Eve and 2022 fast approaching, many people will be starting their New Year’s resolutions. The Columbus Blue Jackets are also looking for ways to better themselves in 2022. While the Blue Jackets currently sit at fifth in the Metropolitan Division with a record of 14-13-1 and 29 points and have defied expectations this season, they will be looking to improve many issues in their game. This piece will examine the “resolutions” the Blue Jackets will be looking to satisfy in the upcoming year.
New Year’s Resolution 1: Werenski and the Defense Needs More Consistency
In the past three seasons (2018-2021), the Columbus Blue Jackets were strong defensively. They were 14th in the NHL in goals-against average (GAA) at 2.88 goals a game. They were also ninth in Fenwick against (FA), which measures the number of unblocked shot attempts allowed, giving up just 8,642 such events. That was a clip of 41.55 per game.
This season, the Blue Jackets’ defense has struggled much more than in those previous. They have fallen to 25th in the league with a GAA of 3.36 goals per game. They also have fallen 16th in FA with 1,293 such events this season. That is a rate of 46.18 FA per game.
The Blue Jackets lost David Savard in a trade late last season and Seth Jones in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks this offseason. Savard and Jones were replaced with Jake Bean and Adam Boqvist, who are more offensive-minded defensemen, and Zach Werenski has been inconsistent.
For these reasons, some defensive struggles were expected for the Blue Jackets. Despite that expectation, Bean and Boqvist will look to improve on the defensive end of the ice, and Werenski will want to be more consistent. Improving the defense will definitely be a resolution for Columbus in 2022.
New Year’s Resolution 2: Blue Jackets Need to Learn How to Finish Games
One of the biggest problems for the Blue Jackets has been their inability to finish games. This season, they have had many games where they have been in control, and they collapse, blow the lead, and struggle to win or lose the game altogether.
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Two recent examples of these struggles were on the team’s last road trip. The first example was on Dec. 11 against the Seattle Kraken. The Blue Jackets built a 4-1 second period lead against the Kraken, but the Kraken scored three third period goals to force overtime. The Blue Jackets were able to win that game 5-4.
The second example was three days later (Dec. 14) against the Vancouver Canucks. The Blue Jackets went into the first intermission with a 3-0 lead. Columbus gave up four unanswered goals to Vancouver and lost the game 4-3.
The Blue Jackets are a young team, and inconsistencies are expected, but they need to learn to close games quickly if they want to keep pace with the rest of the Metropolitan Division. Learning to finish games is a resolution that the Blue Jackets will really want to accomplish in the upcoming year.
New Year’s Resolution 3: Blue Jackets Will Look to Stay Healthy
One of the most popular New Year’s resolutions people make is improving their health and staying healthy. The Blue Jackets will look to do the same as those individuals.
The Blue Jackets have been plagued with injuries in the past few seasons and were forced to use many players from their AHL affiliate, the Cleveland Monsters. Add the constant threat of COVID-19 on top of those injuries and a team’s health can quickly be decimated. COVID has already hit players like Jack Roslovic and Boone Jenner.
The fate of the Blue Jackets’ health may be out of their own hands, but trying to stay healthy will be a top priority for Columbus in 2022.
The Blue Jackets Are Ahead of Schedule for 2022
The Blue Jackets are defying expectations so far this season, and their young team seems to be ahead of schedule. If Columbus can address their issues and complete their resolutions, they have a chance to be competitive in the Metropolitan Division and possibly make the playoffs.
Cody Chalfan is currently a journalism major at the Ohio State University who grew up in Columbus and loves hockey, especially the Blue Jackets. He is disabled, therefore he is a major advocate for the NHL’s Hockey is for Everyone movement. A piece he wrote focusing on the Blue Jackets’ work on expanding the sport into the local special needs community can be found here. Cody can be contacted via Twitter (@cachalfan) direct message for comments, constructive criticism, or story ideas.