How Far Away from Contending are the Columbus Blue Jackets? Look no Further Than Last Night's Example

The Blue Jackets took the wrong direction last summer, building for the now instead of the future.

2016 NHL Draft - Round One
2016 NHL Draft - Round One / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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If you're a Jacket fan managed to stay up and watch the absolute snooze-fest that was last night's Columbus Blue Jackets vs Winnipeg Jets matchup, I'm impressed by your dedication. The Jets lulled the Jackets into wearing themselves out, then absolutely pummeled them with a decisive 5-0 knockout performance.

I watched the entire thing, somehow. Honestly, I didn't think the Jackets played all that badly. They were competing on pucks, playing in Winnipeg's end quite a bit, and generating power-play opportunities.

But, the game turned into a microcosm of the entire CBJ season so far. Even though the young Jackets were competing, they were out-classed in every aspect of the game by a well-coached veteran team.

The Jets kept within their structure like their lives depended on it. Even though the Blue Jackets forced them to bend, they never fully broke. And if the Jackets did break through the defensive line, Connor Hellebuyck was there to bail the Jets out at every turn.

Even looking back on the highlights, I can't recall seeing any one shift or series of momentum swings that caused the Jets to take over the game. They simply stuck to their (let's call it what it is) boring system, and pounced at every offensive opportunity. Any time the Jackets broke structure or committed a mistake, the Jets seemed to find the back of the net.

Last night's game was truly an example of a young team finding its way against an NHL powerhouse. The Jets looked every bit the part of a Cup contender. The Jackets looked every bit the part of a lottery team. This got me thinking about the direction of the team, and the moves Jarmo Kekalainen made over the summer. Let's dive in.