With one half of the season down, the Columbus Blue Jackets are headed into the make or break portion of their season.
With three of their toughest games coming up this week, the Columbus Blue Jackets have a bitter start to their second half of the 2018-19 NHL season. The Metropolitan Division has proven in recent years to be the toughest they come. The last three Stanley Cup Championships have all been Metropolitan teams, despite one of them being repeat champions.
The odds are stacked against Columbus, who currently sits third in the division behind the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins. With the New York Islanders not trailing too far behind, the second half for the Jackets has to be where the team finds separation from two of the NHL’s hottest teams.
I can see this season ending in one of two ways for the Union Blue.
The more likely scenario in my eyes is the Jackets start out the second half abysmal, with loses to Tampa, Nashville, Washington, Buffalo and Winnipeg, but bounce back in February putting them in the wild card conversation where they once again make the playoffs against… Pittsburgh. Where they will promptly get bounced in five games.
The other scenario I can see is the Jackets split between 2nd and 3rd place for the next few weeks and end up finishing in one of these two slots come playoff time. The Jackets would face off against the Washington Capitals, where this time they make no mistake, and defeat the defending champion Capitals in a tough seven game series to move past the first round for the first time in franchise history.
The defense will have to carry this team going forward and the Jackets will only go as far as the back end can carry them. We know the goaltenders can’t bail them out anymore. Let’s hope for option two.