Road Warriors, Home Woes: The Blue Jackets Continue to Struggle at Nationwide Arena

By Jacob Nitzberg on March 4, 2019 at 1:44 pm
Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Scott Harrington (4) is checked into the glass by Winnipeg Jets left wing Brandon Tanev (13) in the third period at Nationwide Arena.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

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Home ice is supposed to give the home team an advantage.

For the Columbus Blue Jackets' 2018-19 campaign, this hasn't been the case. The Blue Jackets (36-26-3) have been two completely different teams at home and on the road — and it's shocking how much better they've been on the road.

This weekend, the Blue Jackets dropped two crucial games back-to-back at Nationwide Arena. They were soundly beaten 4-0 by the lowly Oilers on Saturday, and then were bested 5-2 by the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday. It was perhaps the worst imaginable time to continue the trend of playing poorly at home in front of big crowds, but it happened nevertheless.


Road Tripping

The Blue Jackets are 19-10-1 away from Nationwide Arena, which is good for earning the 8th most points in the league on the road. They can boast road wins over teams currently in playoff spots such as St. Louis, San Jose, Washington (2x), Philadelphia (2x), and Vegas.

This excellent road mark would seem to indicate that the Blue Jackets are even better at home, and should have a top-10 record in the league, right?

Wrong.

No Home Cooking 

On the flip side of the coin, the Blue Jackets are just 17-16-2 at home, which puts them 20th (!) in the league for points earned at home. At home, they have lost to the following teams not currently in playoff positions: Arizona, Detroit, New York Rangers (SO), Vancouver, Anaheim (OT), Buffalo, and Edmonton. These are points that the Blue Jackets are undoubtably kicking themselves for dropping as they now find themselves outside of the playoff picture. The two back-to-back losses this weekend at home to Edmonton and Winnipeg were back-breakers for Columbus, who desperately needed to win at least one, if not both, to maintain a playoff spot.

No one saw this coming once the Blue Jackets traded for Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel, and a couple depth pieces in Adam McQuaid and Keith Kinkaid. Now, the unthinkable is beginning to rear its ugly, foreboding head, and the doomsday scenario is near. The whispers will undoubtably grow louder if the Blue Jackets can't string together some wins soon.

With Duchene, Dzingel, Sergei Bobrovsky, and Artemi Panarin all free agents after this season, missing the playoffs entirely would not be likely to compel any of them to re-sign long term. If the Blue Jackets want to make the playoffs this year, they need to get more points (preferably two per game) from the rest of their home games for the remainder of the season, and maintain their excellent road record. Otherwise, it'll be quite the interesting offseason if they miss out on the playoffs. If changes are to be made, it's now or never for this 2018-19 edition of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

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