Schedule Analysis: With Seven October Home Games, the Columbus Blue Jackets Need to Make Hay Early

By Dan Dukart on July 20, 2017 at 7:44 am
John Tortorella
Aaron Doster - USA TODAY Sports

One of the most tired adages heard throughout the NHL is that game No. 1 is just as significant as game No. 82. 

And while true, it's hard to imagine a season being made or lost in the first month. For Blue Jackets fans, however, this concept isn't anything new. After starting the 2015-16 season 0-8-0, the worst start since the 1943-44 New York Rangers, the Blue Jackets season was effectively over. It's just too big of a hurdle to overcome, and spotting division rivals such a lead becomes insurmountable in a hurry.

This cautionary tale is an important one. John Tortorella used the momentum built up from running his first training camp - something that was (over) hyped for nearly a year - to avoid falling completely flat on their face in 2016-17. Worth noting is that the Blue Jackets did stumble out of the gate, losing their first two games (to Boston and San Jose) before winning a borderline must-win game the next Friday night against Chicago.

But this season will present its own challenges. The Blue Jackets will play 12 games in the month of October, beginning with the season opener at home on Friday, Oct. 6 against the New York Islanders. They won't be at home again for another week, the next Friday night versus the the New York Rangers.

Less than a week later, the Blue Jackets open up a four-game home stand, hosting the Tampa Bay Lightning, Los Angeles Kings, Buffalo Sabres, and Winnipeg Jets over eight days. This is where banking points starts to become really important.

Though only five of 12 October games come against playoff teams from a year ago, the Blue Jackets will be tested, playing three back-to-back's in the month of October alone. 

It is crucial that the Blue Jackets take advantage of a relatively easy (but busy) schedule and carpe the diem out of October. The Metropolitan Division is as strong as it's ever been, and will likely be the most competitive division in the NHL this year. After starting the season with three of four games against divisional opponents, the Blue Jackets won't face another Metro foe until Nov. 6, nearly a month after their last divisional matchup. 

With the combination of seven home games in October and a relatively easy schedule to start the season, the Blue Jackets have a huge opportunity to start 2017-18 with their foot on the gas -- and you can bet it will be a focus for Tortorella, who knows all too well how difficult is to make up ground once you've lost it.

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