Columbus Blue Jacket season by the numbers: how much did they really improve?

The Blue Jackets came into the year with greater expectations. While they did improve in the standings, it wasn't by much.
Philadelphia Flyers v Columbus Blue Jackets
Philadelphia Flyers v Columbus Blue Jackets / Jason Mowry/GettyImages

It's been a tough rebuild in Columbus. After an 81-point effort in the 2021-22 season, the team has fallen off of a cliff. No other way to put it.

The team added pieces in each of the last two summers to get back to contention, but things just haven't worked out. They did improve slightly this season, but it seems like our window of competing for the playoffs was pushed back for another year.

How much better was the club? Well, from an overall perspective, not so good.

In 2022-23, the Jackets finished 31st in the NHL with a 25-48-9 record (59 points). This year, they won just two more games; going 27-43-12 (66 points) - good for 29th overall.

It just wasn't a good enough improvement from a team that came out last summer with the statement that they were ready to push back towards a playoff spot.

While none of us expected them to realistically do that, we all hoped they would perform better than a 7-point improvement. I thought they could get into the 75-85 point range with some injury luck and the roster additions they had. That wasn't the case.

Now, from a deeper dive perspective, they were actually much better than last year.

In 2022-23, the team scored 214 goals and surrendered 330, a -116 differential. This year, they scored 237 and gave up an even 300, a -63 differential.

While they didn't win a ton more, they were a lot more competitive - those pesky third period collapses just killed them all year. They couldn't hold a lead.

The Jackets were actually not too bad at home, with a 17-19-5 record (that would be a 78-point pace). But they struggled on the road, winning just 10 games (10-24-7 overall, 54-point pace).

I think all of these things will improve as the team matures. To me, this is the sign of a young team that plays harder in front of a loud home crowd. Finding consistency in their game will correct both the road record, and the late collapses.

Were they good enough this year to springboard into a playoff run next year? Not even close. That would take a ~25-30 point improvement in the standings. I don't see it.

This is why I mentioned pushing the playoff window back a full year. They'll make another pick inside the top-6 this summer - which doesn't often happen to a team that makes a playoff run the very next year.

More likely, we should hope for them to come back next year and get into that 75-85 point range. That's the kind of year they can build upon and look towards the playoffs.