The Blue Jackets Are Winning Despite Slow Starts, but More Elite Opponents Won't Be So Merciful

By Chris Pennington on January 8, 2020 at 12:15 pm
Pierre-Luc Dubois and Seth Jones celebrate an overtime-winning goal against the Boston Bruins.
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Late-night hockey is already bad for ones health, but making late-game comebacks?! Come on, now.

The Columbus Blue Jackets are hot, folks, and in the most mysterious of ways. They're injured and undermanned across the board, yet have grabbed a point in every single game except for one, dating back to Dec. 9. 

They're also doing it in the most Blue Jacket way possible - in hair-pulling out, head-pounding, living-room-pacing dramatic fashion. Also known as, one-goal games. 

Since that Dec. 9 game, Columbus has played 15 games (going 10-1-4 in that span) with nine of those games being decided by one goal. Two additional games were only two-goal games because of empty-netters, too.

That's a lot of anxiety to be experienced, folks. It's also to be expected - the Blue Jackets took a huge blow this offseason to their scoring front, so 2-1 victories are to be expected.

Here's the issue, though - that may not be an issue at the present moment, but will be sooner or later. The Blue Jackets have been starting painfully slow the past few weeks, and it's going to bite them in the butt eventually.

Let's look at the last four games specifically. The Blue Jackets are 3-1-0 in that stretch, defeating the highly-touted Boston Bruins, and more lowly Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks. They were only defeated by the San Jose Sharks in the midst of those contests.

In all four of these games, the Blue Jackets failed to score the first goal of the game. In three of the four, they won anyway. A furious comeback fell barely short in the San Jose game, or the Blue Jackets would've completed four come-from-behind victories in a row.

These Blue Jackets aren't the Toronto Maple Leafs or Tampa Bay Lightning, meaning they can't score four goals a game without blinking. A three-goal outing is a sight for sore eyes for Columbus, a two-goal outing is expected and a one-goal outing isn't surprising. They're still just 26th in the league in goals for, mind you.

To top it off, despite how well they've been playing, the club still has two goaltenders at the helm who have never been consistent NHL starters. If the flame dies for Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins, they could (would) be in big trouble.

The bottom line is slow starts are killer for any team. The Blue Jackets hold a 6-11-15 record on the year when their opponent scores first, and a 15-4-3 record when they themselves score first. They can get away with spotting a lead against the Kings and Ducks of the hockey world, but the Maple Leafs, Lightning (and even Bruins) won't be as forgiving come April.

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