As we charge into the second half of the NHL season, it’s time to look ahead and see how the next forty(roughly) games could go for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Columbus posted a 20-22-1 record in their first forty-three games, a record that surprised many across the NHL landscape.
With Brad Larsen behind the wheel for his first season, a team in rebuilding mode after trades, and a roster chocked full of young talent, the expectations were low for Columbus this season.
However, the Blue Jackets have been surprisingly dominant at times while being unbelievably bad at others. The team is currently fifth in the Metropolitan Division, trailing the Washington Capitals by a whopping eighteen points.
The team has gone from shutting out the Carolina Hurricanes to being shut out by the Calgary Flames – all in the span of fewer than two weeks.
Let’s try to predict what’s ahead for the Blue Jackets – if that’s even possible.
The goaltending has been inconsistent, to say the least, and it’s hard to say who will start between the crease come Tuesday against Washington. I’d predict Elvis Merzlikins will start, as Daniil Tarasov started against Washington on December 4th, 2021. There have been rumors of Columbus looking to trade Joonas Korpisalo, which could be the reason why he hasn’t played as much this season, despite having a comparable GAA to Merzlikins.
Columbus also has a unique schedule in the second half of the season and does not play as many Metropolitan opponents as expected. The team will have tough matchups against Minnesota, Boston, Vegas, Toronto, and Edmonton in the second half – and I expect the inconsistency to continue.
Hopefully, high-impact players such as Oliver Bjorkstrand, Boone Jenner, and Zach Werenski can stay healthy – as those three players are truly the buoys keeping the ship afloat.
I’m going to go conservative here, and say Columbus will continue the rocky play into the second half, with a season record of 40-39-3.