What We Learned: Good Times and Bad Times for the Columbus Blue Jackets Ahead of the Trade Deadline

By Kyle Morrison on February 12, 2018 at 7:05 am
Zach Werenski carries the puck against the Washington Capitals

USA Today – Amber Searls

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Another week in the books for the Jackets, and for the first time in a while, perhaps, there are signs of hope. Also for the first time in a while, the Jackets are out of a playoff spot. The chase is on, and here are the key takeaways from the past week as we hit the stretch.

Signs of life

We saw two things last night that we haven’t seen in a while – an offensive outburst from the Blue Jackets and a regulation win.

The Jackets got contributions from just about everyone last night – four players had multi-point games (including superstars Artemi Panarin and Seth Jones), and the young guns came to play, too. Pierre-Luc Dubois, Oliver Bjorkstrand and Josh Anderson all lit the lamp. Nick Foligno scored, too, and would have had two goals had it not been for an early whistle.

About time the offense showed up, huh?

Simply put, it’s about damn time that this team put together an effort like that – especially against a divisional opponent. Of course, with an 82-game regular season, it’s irresponsible to put too much stock into one good game (or one bad one, for that matter) – although it’s tempting to talk about this game as a potential turning point for this season.

Still, the Jackets showed what they’re capable of doing last night – and if they can turn in more of those efforts, they’ll be able to overcome their struggles from the past two months.

Still Frustrating

Last night’s game was awesome. The other two this week, not so much.

The Washington Capitals are a great team, and have been for years now. For a team that fancies itself a contender, though, playing two games against a divisional power like the Caps and coming away with zero points is cause for concern.

The Jackets nearly got a point out of Tuesday’s game before Nicklas Backstrom put one past Sergei Bobrovsky with just 43 seconds left in the game – and right after a Blue Jackets power play, no less. Friday’s game was even worse for the Jackets, who put up 37 shots and came away with just two goals. Worse yet, Sergei Bobrovsky let in four goals on just 17 shots.

Saturday’s Blue Jackets were great to watch. The other two games this week were an exercise in frustration. Which will be the norm going forward? It’s anyone’s guess.

Gearing Up for a Wild Trade Deadline

We saw one trade deadline come and go this week – the NBA’s – and saw an Ohio team blow it up in an attempt to catalyze a deep playoff run. The Cavs shipped out underperforming veterans to get intriguing but not-as-established younger players to help them re-tool. Three trades at the deadline by a contender in one day is a rare site for every sport, so don’t expect the Jackets to shake things up quite that much, but there are plenty of indications that they will make a splash at the deadline.

We’re still a couple of weeks away from the deadline, but there’s plenty of speculation out there regarding the Jackets, both as buyers and sellers.

Potential incoming names? Rick Nash, Thomas Vanek and Jean-Gabriel Pageau have all been mentioned as potential fits. Potentially headed out, aside from picks/prospects, could be Jack Johnson, Boone Jenner and Matt Calvert. 

Those are just the names who have been mentioned. Jarmo Kekalainen has a knack for putting deals together quickly that haven’t been heavily speculated, so Feb. 26 could be a wild day in Columbus. The club's young core players may not be off the table, either, as it was recently reported that teams are calling Kekalainen about center Alexander Wennberg.

Given the recent struggles, though, the Jackets may have to make some moves before the deadline, which could set the market for their competition.

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