How One Month Killed the Columbus Blue Jacket Season

During the All-Star break, I started to look deeper at what has caused the Blue Jacket season to crumble. Turns out, it was just a one month stretch of poor play.
Anaheim Ducks v Columbus Blue Jackets
Anaheim Ducks v Columbus Blue Jackets / Jason Mowry/GettyImages

Five games into the NHL season, the Columbus Blue Jackets were 3-2-0. They had a goal differential of -1 (15GF, 16GA) and, honestly, did not look too bad (aside from a lackadaisical 4-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings).

But, the trouble began in their sixth games of the season. A 3-2 OT loss - at home, against a team they should beat (Anaheim) - seemed to rattle this team. They went on to pick up just one win in a 14 game stretch from October 21, through November 22.

In that 14 game stretch, the Jackets picked up just 5 of a possible 28 points. During that time, they were out-scored 53-36, giving them a goal differential of -17. Some of the games were close. In fact, 10 of the 13 losses were by 1-goal. Unfortunately, they just weren't able to get over the hump and win.

Aside from that ugly month of hockey, the Blue Jackets have been basically right on pace with what we predicted in the offseason. Their record otherwise is 15-14-7, with a goal differential of -19 (112GF, 131GA).

That level of play would put them at an 84-point pace, over a full season of hockey. Almost comically, they would still be in last place in the Metropolitan Division with that pace.

Jan 27, 2024; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Columbus Blue Jackets forward Kirill Marchenko (86)
Jan 27, 2024; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Columbus Blue Jackets forward Kirill Marchenko (86) / Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

Though, by my math they would have roughly the same amount of points (51) as Pittsburgh, Washington, and New Jersey at the All-Star break; just with more games played. If we look at it that way, maybe it doesn't really matter. Maybe being further back is better for this team in the long-term.

Still, I think most of us would have found this season somewhat acceptable if the team played at that level over the full season. Not many of us expected them to realistically contend for a playoff spot. That kind of growth over last year's 59-points would have calmed the masses.

Instead, this young team learned just how much these early season games matter. Had they even managed to win 3 or 4 more of games in that stretch, they would be right on pace with some of the other teams in the division.

Instead, they're on pace for roughly 69 points. A poor month of hockey has them competing for another lottery pick.