The Columbus Blue Jackets lost to the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 on Thursday night. Even despite the loss, the Blue Jackets stay in a playoff spot. They are tied in the standings with the New York Islanders and stay a single point up on the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Blue Jackets held a 1-0 lead after two periods thanks to a strong second period. Things fell apart in the third period thanks to an unfortunate bounce and their penalty kill eventually faltering.
— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) February 23, 2018
At this point in the season, the result of the game is the secondary storyline. Both teams played a tight, structured game. To no one’s surprise, this was a one-goal game. That’s the normal for the Blue Jackets and Flyers.
No, the story we need to focus on here is the message this game sent to management led by Jarmo Kekalainen and company. This wasn’t just a message sent. It was a cry for help.
The Blue Jackets need an impact forward on this team to help them. The offense has struggled for too long this season. If they hope to salvage a playoff spot, their offense must wake up. Six goals in their last four games with so much on the line is not good enough.
We have enough evidence this season to suggest help is needed. Yes the Blue Jackets have potential. But they haven’t shown anything to suggest that their struggling core is just going to turn it around all of a sudden.
Let’s face reality. Their power play stinks. Their penalty kill has been inconsistent. When you’re a team who can’t score goals and have special teams in the sewer, even Sergei Bobrovsky can’t always save you. He’s done his part. The Blue Jackets are in a playoff spot despite just 18 regulation wins in 61 games.
All eyes now focus on Blue Jackets’ management. Although there’s a game Saturday night against the Chicago Blackhawks, we don’t need one more game to know what they need to do. Management needs to make their move to wake this team up. The question is will they?
The Blue Jackets Need the Playoffs
The Columbus Blue Jackets have never made the Stanley Cup playoffs in two consecutive seasons. That changes if they make it this season. For this franchise, they need the success of making the playoffs. It’s of utmost importance.
Once the playoffs begin, you never know. Just ask the Los Angeles Kings.
But you have to get there first. The Blue Jackets can make these playoffs. They won’t do it if they keep this current forward group. Their offense is not good enough to withstand several teams trying to get in. This is why a trade needs to happen.
Now, they will not overpay just for the sake of a trade. This is not to suggest that they have to go big-game fishing. If they can and it works, that’s great. What they cannot do is nothing. The message that sends could have bad consequences.
They need to make a move. If nothing else, it tells the team that we believe in you to make the playoffs and here’s some help for you to get there. Doing nothing tells everyone that they believe in what they have and that it’s good enough to make the postseason without the extra help. That hasn’t been good enough all season.
Trying Isn’t Good Enough
Thursday’s game in Philadelphia told us the Blue Jackets need help at forward. Management knows it. The players know it. The fans know it. The onus now falls squarely on management to help get the Blue Jackets into the playoffs.
That’s why the way Kekalainen and crew handle the deadline is the story. Some teams could stand pat and it’s in their best interest. It is not in the Blue Jackets’ best interest to stand pat. They’re not good enough to.
There is an opportunity for the Blue Jackets to make the big dance despite the poor results. You do whatever it takes to put yourself in the best position to make the big dance. There are options on the market that can help the Blue Jackets now. They can’t be left behind. New Jersey already got better when they acquired Michael Grabner.
Now we wait just like everyone else. What will the Blue Jackets do? Will they give the team a boost to help them in this dogfight? They need to. Otherwise, a once promising season will go up in flames. They’re certainly trying. But only trying isn’t good enough. They must deliver.
Your move, Columbus.
I am a fully credentialed writer who covers the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Monsters and Erie Otters as well as the Ontario Hockey League and NHL Draft. The 2021-22 season will mark eight seasons with the Hockey Writers. I am also the site’s Credentials Manager.