Let me just open by writing that this will not be a popular blog entry.
Some will view this as negative, but the possibility struck me as an incredible potential coincidence.
The Blue Jackets’ recent hot streak (6-0-4 in their last ten games) has placed the team on the playoff periphery. Entering play on Tuesday, Columbus’ 11-12-6 mark is good for 28 points, which is two back of the eighth place Phoenix squad.
While it really isn’t prudent yet to say that Columbus is in a playoff race, it is close. The last time we could say that was in the 2010-11 season.
After a strong 14-6 start that had the CBJ the talk of the NHL in late November, the Jackets’ had a brutal 3-9-4 stretch that dropped Columbus out of the Western Conference race.
However, a mid-January rebound of 11-3-3 boosted the Blue Jackets’ record to 31-23-6 on February 27th that year. Those 68 points, while 12th in the Western Conference, were just four back of eighth in the West.
With the trade deadline looming, Columbus tried to increase its playoff chances by acquired Scottie Upshall and Sami Lepisto from Phoenix.
Yet, a five-game road trip through Nashville, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and St. Louis yielded just two points (0-3-2), and the Blue Jackets’ post-season aspirations were gone.
Here is where the déjà vu could possibly come in. After Columbus wraps up its current home stand (nine of ten games), it heads out on a four-game road trip; to Nashville, Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary.
Again, I’m not saying that the Blue Jackets will definitely fall apart on the upcoming road trip; only that it would be uncanny if it happened in the same four cities—in the same order—as it did two years ago.
Simply stated, though…any chance of staying in the playoff hunt in 2013—let lone actually getting in—will require two things; a vastly improved road record (currently CBJ are 3-8-1 away from Nationwide Arena), and generating a little bit more offense.
While goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky has been on an incredible run, he’ll likely need more support for Columbus to continue its winning ways.