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Blue Jackets Links

Late night/Super early morning musings.

Monday, January 07, 2008
In the most recent blog entry by Jackets' beat writer Aaron Portzline over at Puck Rakers, Portzline dumbs down the mathematics of what the Jackets must accomplish in their next 40 games if they want to have so much as an outside shot at making the playoffs at the end of the season.

Prior to the first game of 2008 for the Blue Jackets, I'd been actually wondering the same thing, trying to figure out if the Jackets really would have to hit that magic number of "95" in terms of season point total to crack the top eight in the Western Conference. The thing is, the current teams at the 7th and 8th spots are themselves not on pace for that many points. Colorado, who has been hampered by an injury to Joe Sakic and a more recent injury to Ryan Smyth, sits with 47 points in 41 games, meaning they are actually on pace for 94. Meanwhile, the Anaheim Ducks -- although they have picked up the pace ever since Scott Neidermeyer's return -- are still on pace for lower, with 48 points so far in 44 games, meaning they're actually aiming for somewhere between 91-93 (it's 1:11 in the morning; don't ask me to do the specific math, folks).

Still, the Jackets themselves are currently on pace for only 86 points, in large part because of the fact that they have been unable to string together consecutive wins on more than just a few occasions since November. And when they have, they have in turn dropped consecutive games, negating what they may have accomplished. It's obvious that this sort of inconsistency can be highly infuriating, as it's just about the same as living with someone who is suffering from manic depression. One moment everything is peachy keen, and they're on top of the world ... alas, the next minute, they go emo on you, and start listening to Linkin Park as they start to self-destruct behaviorally.

Analogies to serious mental issues aside, I have no qualms if I never see another several game winning streak, much like we saw in October. Although it amounts to the same thing that Portzline said when he dropped on Puck Rakers' readers that the Blue Jackets need to go 24-12-4 (or the other two record examples), perhaps it won't seem as daunting when put in to a month-by-month perspective. In essence, the Jackets need to do this over the next 11 games of January, then the 14 in February, 14 in March, and last three in April:

January: 7-4-0 (14 points)
February: 7-5-1 (15 points)
March: 7-5-1 (15 points)
April: 2-1-0 (4 points)

48 points, plus the 44 the team currently has, leaves them with 92 points. They need to try and aim for, on average, finishing every month two games over .500 if they want to perhaps sniff at the playoffs. Considering their road-heavy schedule over this month and next, that's going to be one brutal task. Additionally, if they do want to crack or at least match the magic point total of 95, they're going to have to steal some games that would let them finish more than two games over .500 each month, too. The best time for that to even possibly happen? March, when the Jackets will finally return back to Nationwide Arena for 8 of 13 games during the month. It's asking a lot, but if this team can just hang on for dear life the rest of this month and the next, considering they have one of the top home records in the league (something along the lines of 3rd? 4th?), they could do something around that time.

But this is all very much just guesswork. Who in the world knows what'll happen between then and now. Will Rick Nash shake off this inconsistency he seems to be dealing with (yes, he had a hat trick on New Years' Eve, but had been having consistency issues both before, and then after that)? Will the team manage to get healthier, with key players such as Fredrik Modin having been out for practically all season now? Will Gilbert Brule make a successful return back up to the big show after a several game stint down with the Syracuse Crunch, or will Derrick Brassard instead come up for some games? And will any trades be made by General Manager Scott Howson, and what will they address if they do come to happen?

This week is going to be a real mettle tester for the Blue Jackets. They'll be playing the Blues for the fourth time this season on Tuesday, and although they had shut St. Louis out in two of the three games they've played so far, that third game in St. Louis (and this next game is also in St. Louis) was ugly. After that, they'll face off a second time on Friday, followed by a real make or break game against Nashville the day after that. If this team wants to even consider making a push, they need to get over themselves and this Predator-phobia they seem to be dealing with. No more choking against Nashville, like they did twice in December, in one week no less.

With all of this said, it's late, and I go back to work after a much-needed vacation as of tomorrow. Peace out.
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Name: Michael
Home: San Tan Valley, Arizona, United States
About Me: A mid-20s male who feels much too old even before he's 30. Has a degree in Sport Management and after branching out and trying a few other things in the job market, has finally decided to go back to his first love of hockey and hope he can break in with a team, big or small, somehow.
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