Last week, we took a dive into five pitfalls that could doom the Columbus Blue Jackets this season. This week, we’ll look at five reasons the Blue Jackets will make the playoffs.
Obviously, when your team finishes with 59 points and the 31st overall record in the NHL, the odds of failure are far greater than the odds of success. If the Jackets are going to make the playoffs this year, just about everything has to go right. For that reason, we can’t really say these are the only five reasons they’ll make the playoffs this year – but, these are the main areas of obvious improvement that might get them there.
#1 reason the Blue Jackets contend: the rest of the Eastern Conference isn’t as good.
Don’t take this as a prediction. It’s more of a guess, and it’s probably going to be very wrong … but it’s one of the things that probably needs to happen for the Jackets to get in this year. While perennial contending teams like Tampa Bay, Boston, and Washington, have all seemingly taken steps back recently; there are more than enough contenders lining up elsewhere.
Ottawa, Detroit, and Buffalo are three that look prime for big breakouts – probably sooner than later. While the Jackets sit somewhere in limbo, maybe better than the experts are predicting; but with a ton of question marks of their own. It’s hard to predict what we might see from our own team this year, let alone how it might stack up against other teams with question marks.
We’ll talk quite a bit later in the article about some areas the Jackets need major improvements. But, the important thing to remember is, they have to be better than at least 8 teams in the Eastern Conference to make the playoffs. Right away, we can check off Carolina, New Jersey, the NY Rangers, Toronto; and even with their subtractions, probably Boston and Tampa Bay. That’s six teams who are set up to have much better seasons than the Jackets.
Then, look at how we match up against teams like Ottawa, Detroit, and Buffalo. Oh, and we can’t forget the always tough NY Islanders, or those pesky Pittsburgh Penguins, who always seem to have our number. Ultimately, while I think there are some teams taking steps back in the Eastern Conference, it’s still a really tall task. But, teams stepping back is one thing that needs to happen for this young Jackets team to make the playoffs this season.