The Columbus Blue Jackets played a solid game Friday against the Washington Capitals, with the exception of two plays. These two plays cost them the game. One was a turnover. The other was an unlucky bounce that led to a three-on-one.
Things happen. Turnovers happen. Bad bounces happen. Unlucky things happen. But they are only magnified when you have a historically bad start to your season. The timing of them is everything.
Because of their 0-8-0 start, the Blue Jackets are in a major hole. Their margin for error is much less now than if they started with a .500 record.
This is why the Blue Jackets might be in some trouble.
I’m not saying the season is over at 2-9-0 with 71 games left, far from it. What I am saying however is that their margin for error is less. In other words, they have to play close to perfect to recover from their start.
This is why it is so hard to make up many points over the course of a season.
Think back to last December for a minute. The Blue Jackets played an almost perfect month. They finished 10-1-1. How much did they gain in the standings? Not much. The teams ahead of them kept almost the same pace, slightly less, so the Blue Jackets didn’t gain much ground.
They could face that same situation again this season.
The top three teams in the Metro are off to great starts. More things have to go right for them to get back in the race.
Is it impossible? Definitely not. But what you are now seeing is the true devastation of what an 0-8-0 start does. It doesn’t eliminate you from the playoffs. But it surely damages it, more than we want to acknowledge.
There is good news. It is still October. There is plenty of hockey left. The Blue Jackets feel they are playing well, but have to tighten up some things. The players are confident about where they feel they are going.
“I can’t wait to see how all this unfolds.”, said Ryan Johansen. He returned to the lineup Friday after missing a couple of games due to an illness.
“We played well. We had some chances but just couldn’t capitalize. We did a lot of things well.”
They did play well, especially in the first period. But, one turnover and one shot gave the Capitals the lead. An unlucky break made it 2-0. They got one back, but couldn’t get the equalizer.
At the end of the day, it is still a loss. Coach Tortorella said after the game that moral victories do them no good at this point. He’s right. Time is of the essence. If the Columbus Blue Jackets want to make a serious run at the playoffs, they have to find ways to win, even if it’s ugly.
If the Blue Jackets fail to qualify for the playoffs this season, they will look back at the first eight games and wonder what could have been even if they won just four of those games. Their season may have already been defined. They have 71 games to show us otherwise.
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.