As of this morning, the Jackets have played 27 games, earned 25 points, and have 55 games remainining in the season. To make the play-offs, which may not be the financial answer or re-generative accomplishment for the team in the current depression recession, they will have to win about 33 games to hit the magical 90 point mark for the season. I’m looking and looking and have yet to see how this is going to happen.
Sixty-five points is a tall order to ask of this team. To do that, the team would have to hit the 20% mark on the power play, take far fewer penalties, have Rick Nash score 50 goals or more, the rest of the team start scoring enough to raise the goals per game average above 3.0, and hope that some of the teams ahead of them start to fade. Nash might hit 40 goals if he stays healthy and converts more, but I only see Kristian Huselius as someone else who can step up. Derick Brassard is a rookie and hasn’t played a full NHL season. It only gets tougher for him as the season goes on. Hitchcock has already lost some of his confidence in Jakub Voracek and cut his ice time.
The power play can’t get much worse and the law of averages tells me that they will start to improve, maybe hit the 15% mark. It would have been nice to see the team convert more of their early chances, which would have put them higher in the standings with a few more wins.
As for the teams ahead of them, there is some hope. Colorado is an aging team that has probably lost Joe Sakic for the seaon. They will find victories harder to come by unless their goaltending improves, their defense plays better, and a few players step up to make up for the loss of Sakic.
Los Angeles is much-improved this season, but they have a lot of youth and journeymen who may not be up to a playoff drive. Remember the Blue Jackets from last year?
Phoenix? Edmonton? St. Louis? Can these three teams really be better than the Jackets? Phoenix seems to have control over Columbus, buying the rights to have their way with the Jackets from Nashville. And that is where we stand today, at the bottom, but with Nashville coming into Nationwide tonight.
The Blue Jackets have to beat Nashville tonight, to move up in the standings while dropping the Predators down, and to show themselves and the fans that the hex is broken, that the Jackets have put that behind them and can handle Nashville as if they are a regular NHL team. For the 9,000 fans who show up tonight, they need to be assured that seeing the Predators on the schedule is not an automatic LOSS.
It will be interesting tonight. The team is almost playing as if it was 2003 again, that Christmas is coming and the Blue Jackets are leaving. A loss tonight and a split with Chicago and the Islanders over the weekend can be a season killer.
Déjà vu indeed.