The Columbus Blue Jackets had a bitter taste in their mouths entering the 2017-2018 because they were ousted in five games against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round last postseason. Entering this season, Columbus has expectations to either win the Stanley Cup or the season will be considered a failure. Head coach John Tortorella has changed the culture in Columbus ever since being hired during the middle of the 2015-2016 season.
The Blue Jackets are currently in second place in the Metropolitan Division with a 27-19-3 record with 57 points. If the season ended right now, Columbus would once again face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round. That would be the third time in five seasons those two teams would meet. Columbus lost both playoff series to them in 2014 and 2017.
It is possible they could meet once again in the playoffs. If Columbus wants to win their first Stanley Cup, they might have no choice but to dethrone the back-to-back champions. The Blue Jackets could be on pace to play Washington in the second round and whoever wins the Metro side of the bracket, they would likely face the Tampa Bay Lightning, but we have seen crazier things before.
Columbus has had some key injuries to players earlier in the season to Zach Werenski, Alexander Wennberg, and Cam Atkinson. They are all back now and maybe they will develop better chemistry in the second half of the season. Brandon Dubinsky was recently sent home during Columbus’s road trip because of disciplinary and health issues. Will see whether or not he can return this season at all.
Artemi Panarin leads the Blue Jackets in points with 39 (12 goals and 27 assists). He was acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks this past offseason for forward Brandon Saad and goaltender Anton Forsberg. Seth Jones has scored eight goals and recorded 24 assists so far this season. Oliver Bjorkstrand has scored eight goals and recorded 18 assists so far this season. Josh Anderson has scored the most goals for Columbus so far this season with 15, but he also has 10 assists.
Zach Werenski has scored 11 goals and recorded 11 assists so far this season. Rookie Pierre-Luc Dubois has been very good at the center position for the Blue Jackets so far this season. He has scored 10 goals and recorded 12 assists so far this season.
Wennberg (five goals and 14 assists) and Atkinson (seven goals and seven assists), haven’t had the same pop to there game in the first half of the season and I understand they were both injured, but I expect them to pick it up in the second half of the season.
Sergei Bobrovsky is the main reason why Columbus has a chance to hoist the Stanley Cup in June. His record so far this season is 22-15-3 with a .920 save percentage and a 2.46 GAA, along with four shutouts. Backup Joonas Korpisalo’s record is 5-4 with a .912 save percentage and 2.85 GAA.
The Blue Jackets have the worst power play percentage in the NHL (13.7%). They have the 26th worst penalty kill percentage in the NHL (77.5%). Columbus will be an interesting team to keep an eye on in the second half of the season and they have a good chance to win it all.