What five game stretch stands out on the Columbus Blue Jackets schedule as particularly challenging?
Every game in the NHL is tough and winning in this league is a true challenge. But some games are more challenging than others. The Columbus Blue Jackets season has plenty of tough stretches but none more daunting than their first five games in 2019.
The Jackets will open the 2019 calendar year off with a challenging three game road trip starting in Raleigh. Although the Hurricanes aren’t going to be a juggernaut like Winnipeg or Tampa Bay, they have made some crafty offseason moves to bolster their lineup.
Trading for Dougie Hamilton and Micheal Ferland helped them both with their forwards and blue line. Hamilton is one of the top five best offensive defenseman in the league along with the Jackets Seth Jones and Zach Werenski. Alongside new addition Trevor van Riemsdyk and Carolina veterans Brett Pesce, Jacob Slavin and Justin Faulk, this D-corps is loaded.
Columbus Blue Jackets
The terrifying thing about the Hurricanes is that their offense, even without Elias Lindholm and Jeff Skinner, has some sneaky dangerous scorers. Sebastian Aho is the most underrated forward in the game along with fellow winger Teuvo Teravainen.
What could really take this team to the next level is the play of 2018 number two overall pick Andrei Svechnikov and 2017 12th overall pick Martin Necas. Both look like future stars in the making and if they both break through and have solid rookie campaigns, this Hurricanes team will be in the playoffs this season.
This game is followed by an immediate flight to Florida to face the Panthers the next day. Another sneaky team that could have made the playoffs last year and will be a threat to do so again. The Panthers, along with the Hurricanes, will be everyone’s dark horse pick to make the playoffs out of the Eastern Conference.
Back-to-backs with flight overnight makes any game challenging but when it will be between games with sparse crowds and against tough teams, weird things can happen. These two games on the 4th and 5th should worry the Jackets.
Then the Jackets have three days off before their next game. Not so bad, right? Well it is bad when you have to face the favorites to win the Eastern Conference in their barn.
On the 8th of January the Jackets will try and take down the Tampa Bay Lightning in Amalie Arena. The Bolts are absolutely loaded and will look to make a final run toward a Stanley Cup this year before contracts become an issues.
If Tampa isn’t the favorite to win the Cup this year then the Columbus Blue Jackets next opponent likely is. After a rough game in Tampa, the boys fly home to host the Nashville Predators.
Last year’s Presidents’ Trophy winner are poised to win the toughest division in hockey again this year and make a run at the Stanley Cup. Virtually everyone returns from last year’s squad that amassed 117 points.
To round it all out the Jackets are rewarded with a short flight to the nation’s capital to take on the defending Stanley Cup Champions. By this point in the year the Washington Capitals will finally be over their hangover and in midseason form. The Caps biggest loss in the offseason was their head coach, Barry Trotz, who now is coaching in Long Island. Other than that, this team brings back all of the major pieces from last year’s Cup run.
January 4th- at Carolina
January 5th- at Florida
January 8th- at Tampa Bay
January 10th- vs Nashville
January 12th- at Washington
Five games in nine days with four on the road. One back-to-back and three against teams that had over 100 points last year. The Jackets might want to rethink their New Years Eve plans with these five challenging games staring them in the face to start 2019.