The expectation for the Columbus Blue Jackets heading into the 2022-23 season was that they would get back to the postseason for the first time since 2020. After a disappointing 2021-2022 season in which they finished 37-38-7 with 81 points, the Jackets shocked the NHL world in the offseason by signing left winger Johnny Gaudreau to a seven-year, $68.25 million contract. With the addition of Gaudreau to go alongside left wingers Patrick Laine and Gustav Nyquist (Alternate Captain), centers Liam Foudy and Bonne Jenner (Captain), and defenseman Zach Werenski (Alternate Captain), the Jackets were expected to be a competitive team who made a push towards a playoff spot, but they have been anything but a playoff contender through the first 14 games of the 2022-23 season.
Before Columbus embarks on their upcoming six-game homestand, they faced the New York Islanders in New York. At the end of regulation, it was a 3-3 game which required overtime. 39 seconds into OT, Islanders left winger Zach Parise fought through an interference penalty to put the puck in the back of the net to lift New York to a 4-3 victory.
The Jackets will have to lick their wounds as they get ready for a rematch with the Philadelphia Flyers on November 15th, a team they defeated five days ago 5-2. The Jackets find themselves in last place in the Eastern Conference, and second to last in the National Hockey League with a mark of 4-9-1 with nine points. In the Metropolitan division, they’re six points behind the seventh-place Pittsburgh Penguins, who are 6-6-3 and have 15 points.
The rematch with the Flyers kicks off a six-game homestand for Columbus. The Jackets will host the Montreal Canadiens (twice), Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers (On a Saturday-Sunday back-to-back), and the Islanders. All five opponents coming to Nationwide Arena during the upcoming homestand are right in the thick of the playoff picture. After their 5-2 victory over Philadelphia on November 10th, Columbus improved their record at Nationwide Arena to a game below .500 at 3-4 on the young season.
The Blue Jackets have not yet played a quarter of their games this season, thus it’s not time to hit the panic button on the team’s immediate future. They have had to deal with a multitude of injuries, most notably the loss of Werenski for the season due to a shoulder injury. As such, Columbus will have to head up I-71 South and grab players from the Cleveland Monsters in order to keep their roster intact.
Despite it being so early into the season, the Blue Jackets need to start winning games. As of November 14th, the Islanders are in second place in the Metro division with a record of 10-6-0, and they’ve wracked up 20 points. Columbus is only 11 points behind the Isles. Florida, 8-6-1 with 17 points, has a hold of the second Wild Card spot. The Panthers lead the Blue Jackets by eight points. The New York Rangers, 8-6-3 with 19 points, are in possession of the first wildcard spot. The Rangers lead the Jackets by 10 points.
With it still being early in the season, it’s certainly not time to panic for
the Columbus Blue Jackets. However, that doesn’t mean the Jackets haven’t been underwhelming to start the 2022-2023 NHL season and will need to turn their early struggles into wins if they want to make the postseason come spring.
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