For the past two seasons, all has been good when it comes to the Columbus Blue Jackets. They made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, they have a Jack Adams Award winner in John Tortorella behind the bench who has made them better, and they have an executive team that works hard and has made this team a contender in the Eastern Conference.
However, with that said, things have not been good in Columbus this season. Let’s first take a look at their play.
As of this writing, the Blue Jackets are third in the very competitive Metropolitan Division with 14 points in 12 games. While they are three points behind the division-leading Pittsburgh Penguins, they are actually 17th in the league. Clearly, for someone like Tortorella, that is not good enough. What really has to be bugging Torts is the fact that defensively, his team has been terrible to start the season.
The club is currently the eighth worst team in terms of goals allowed. They have given up 44 goals in 12 games, which means they are allowing almost four goals per game, a number that is not good enough to help teams win hockey games.
Simply put, Blue Jackets’ two-time Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky has not been anywhere near good enough to start the season. As of this writing, Bobrovsky is 3-5 with a 3.24 goals against average and a .889 save percentage. These are not the kind of numbers that the Blue Jackets are used to seeing from their all-world netminder. This is an All-Star masked man who has been the franchise’s best player for the last six years, so right now, the way he is playing is well below what we are used to seeing from him.
Unfortunately, the team’s backup goaltender, Joonas Korpisalo, has not been much better. While he has won four of his five starts, his numbers are not very good as he currently has a 3.99 goals against average and a .881 save percentage.
Speaking of giving up a lot of goals, the Blue Jackets have been awful on the penalty kill. The team is currently 27th in the league as they have killed just 76.2 percent of the penalties they have taken so far this season. The Blue Jackets have also been terrible with the man advantage. As of this writing, the team is 28th in the league on the power play as they have converted on just over 17 percent of the time with the man advantage.
Lastly, this team is dealing with two major outside distractions that could severely impact the team moving forward. The first one has to do with Bobrovsky. On TSN Insiders on November 1, it was reported that the tensions were increasing between Bobrovsky on the Blue Jackets as he is due to be a UFA at the end of the season. The analysts wondered if maybe the team would try and trade Bobrovsky at the deadline, so with those kinds of thoughts, this has to be a distraction not only for Bobrovsky, but on the franchise as a whole.
Of course, there is also the Artemi Panarin situation. Panarin currently leads his team in scoring with 15 points (5 goals and 10 assists), but like Bobrovsky, he is due to become a UFA at the end of the year.
Like Bobrovsky’s situation, there has been no sign of a resolution between Panarin and the team’s management. When looking at both Bobrovsky and Panarin, these are the two most important players for this franchise and if this team wants to win the Cup anytime soon, the Blue Jackets will need both of these guys in order to do it.
It’s still early in the season, but if things continue to go south and be unclear in terms of Bobrovsky and Panarin’s future, it could be a very long winter in Ohio.