Pregame 11: Columbus Blue Jackets at New Jersey Devils


Nine players out with injuries. Over half the salary  cap sitting out. A four-game losing streak. The last few weeks have not been nice to the Columbus Blue Jackets, and they need to turn things around quick if they want to stay competitive in this early season.

Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Last night was a tough loss, and now the Jackets need to put it behind them and move on. They need to start anew in New Jersey  tonight if they hope to get things turned around, because each loss digs the hole a little bit deeper. During this off-season, I wrote about whether or not the Jackets could start this season off right, and now that we’re 11 games in, it’s hard to say.

In the last two seasons, the Jackets started off 5-12-4 and 5-10-4 respectively. So far this season, they are 4-6-0. After the first four games, I certainly would have said they were off to a better start than the previous two seasons, but that was before all the injuries. It was before the four-game losing streak. Now, it doesn’t look so good.

But, we’ve only had 10 games. The Jackets are still only two games under 500. All is not lost. The season has just begun. In the long run, six losses out of 82 games isn’t much. The key is to turn it around now while there is still time, and to not get into a hole we can’t dig ourselves out of. We just can’t keep playing the way we have in the last four games. The effort hasn’t been there, and the Jackets simply can’t afford that.

But today is a new day.

Turning things around can start tonight. The Jackets couldn’t pull off a win at home last night, and lost in a sloppy 4-1 defeat to the Toronto Maple Leafs. They looked slow, sloppy, and disorganized last night, and things have to be better in New Jersey tonight. The Devils are 5-3-2 this season, being 1-1-2 at home. The Jackets are 4-6-0, being 2-3-0 both at home and on the road, meaning they will be facing a team that is four points better than them in 10 games.

The sloppiness that we saw last night can’t happen again tonight, which is no easy task. Typically, the second game of a back-to-back is the slower, less put-together game of the two, but the Jackets can’t let that happen tonight in New Jersey. They need to find a way to put last night’s game behind them and come out with a better showing on the road than they managed at home last night.

If they don’t, it’ll be two more points down the drain, and one less opportunity to get ahead. The standings really aren’t that important this early on, but it’s worth keeping an eye on. The Jackets currently sit at 7th place in the Metro, but are still 6 points ahead of the 8th place Carolina Hurricanes. That being said, the Jackets are only five points behind the 1st place Pittsburgh Penguins. Every point matters right now, and down the road, each point will matter even more.

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The Jackets can’t count on an eight-game winning streak to put them into playoff position late in the season again. Even with the enormous amount of injuries they are facing, they need to find a way to get back on track and start this season off better than the last two, so they can put themselves in a better position going forward. The last four games have been nothing short of disappointing, and tonight is their chance to turn it around. If the Jackets can battle back from a bad home performance and pull off two points on the road tonight, it’ll start to turn things around. Just one win could turn this team around and get them back to their game, and they have the perfect opportunity to make that happen tonight. Go Jackets!