The Columbus Blue Jackets needed to end their California trip on a high note. Mission accomplished.
Thanks to a fast start, the Blue Jackets left San José with a 4-2 win over the Sharks. With the victory, the Blue Jackets reclaimed the East’s second wildcard spot. The kids gave the team a much-needed boost.
Sonny Milano scored again and now has 11 goals on the season. Nick Foligno opened the scoring while Artemi Panarin connected twice. Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 33 of 35 shots to earn first star honors.
The Blue Jackets won just once on their three-game trip to California. Most importantly however, they left holding the second wildcard spot. Now they can make a statement thanks to their schedule.
The Blue Jackets host the Vegas Golden Knights Tuesday at Nationwide Arena. This game opens a stretch in which seven of their next 10 games are at home including the next four and five of their next six.
If there was ever a time to put the foot on the gas and go, it’s now. After this 10-game stretch, the Blue Jackets have to travel to Western Canada.
Breaking Down the Upcoming Schedule
The Blue Jackets start with their toughest game of this home stretch. The Golden Knights broke their mini losing streak by defeating the New Jersey Devils. They sit 10 points clear of the San José Sharks for first in the Pacific and four points back of Nashville for first overall in the West.
This should be an incredible game with Vegas’ speed against Columbus’ desperation. The Golden Knights won the first meeting 6-3 at T-Mobile Arena. The Blue Jackets had no answers for their speed. Can they make the necessary adjustments?
After this the Blue Jackets host Colorado and Detroit. The Avalanche are fighting for their playoff lives as they trail the Los Angeles Kings by one point for the West’s second wildcard. Recall the Avalanche shutout the Blue Jackets 2-0 on Jan 4.
Detroit is a game that the Blue Jackets just have to win. You have to beat teams below you in the standings at this time of the season.
The Montreal Canadiens come to town Mar 12. Again, this is a game the Blue Jackets have to win especially at home. If they can win three or all four of these games, they get a date with the Flyers with the Metro top-three at stake depending how the week goes for the other teams involved. As of this writing, the Blue Jackets trail the Flyers by eight. If the Blue Jackets keep winning and the Flyers keep losing, you never know.
After this, their next five games are Ottawa, at Boston, at New York Rangers, FLORIDA and St. Louis. Going to Boston is never easy, but the rest are winnable games. The big game in this stretch is when the Panthers come calling on Mar 22. With the Panthers trailing by one as of this writing, that could be one of the biggest games of the season for both teams.
With this many games at home, the Blue Jackets must use this part of the schedule to make their move. How have they fared at home this season? They are 19-11-2 at home going into this stretch.
Sergei Bobrovsky is much better at Nationwide Arena this season. He is 15-9-2 with a 2.16 and a .929 as compared to 13-12-3 with a 2.69 and a .912 on the road. This is an area the Blue Jackets must take advantage of.
The opportunity is there for the Blue Jackets. They get a boatload of home games in a tight race. It’s now or never for them. Nationwide must be on their side. The building needs to shake. It could give a much-needed boost to a team looking for any kind of momentum.
Will Nationwide be on the Blue Jackets side? They sure do hope so.
I am a fully credentialed writer who covers the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Monsters and Erie Otters as well as the Ontario Hockey League and NHL Draft. The 2021-22 season will mark eight seasons with the Hockey Writers. I am also the site’s Credentials Manager.