The Columbus Blue Jackets have begun to figure out how to win. It took a while but they are now winning with consistency. They are making the playoffs and heck, just recently they have been winning playoff rounds.
My greatest fear with the Blue Jackets now centers around the idea of mediocrity. This is a team that seems bound to make the playoffs by the hair of their chinny chin chin. They make savvy moves yet by the same token seem like they are managing with a hand behind their back.
They are not afraid to move forward when the time is right and make a difficult move that other teams would make.
Despite all of this, this team feels like it is stuck in a rut.
The team drafted later in the first round but weren't one of the last few picks. Despite their win over the Maple Leafs, they were soundly defeated by the Lightning in the next round. They don't have much to hang their hat on other than their goaltending which was astounding at times.
It makes me think of a podcast episode where an NFL team was described as "bogey golf" because they were content with just scraping by and not really wanting to improve. If you know anything about golf, if you're an amateur, bogey golf isn't that bad. The context is what is truly important. If you want to get to the next level, you have to buckle down to make sure even the tiniest improvements are made.
The Blue Jackets like many teams are also dealing with constraints that they really have no control over. While it hasn't been the case in years past, it has been mentioned that an internal cap has been used. If that is the case, you do cap yourself at being average with the opportunity to be slightly above average as well.
The other issue with Columbus is the fact that it isn't a draw for the biggest players in the game. It is just a reality that central Ohio isn't the same as Los Angeles or New York. A certain type of player may enjoy coming here and that type of player has proven to be tougher than initially thought.
Putting it all into a blender, you see why the Blue Jackets are in the position they are in. The team has a solid core and some aging veterans but by this point, the team has seen some of their initial core move on. Considering how long they have a couple of their top defensemen in Seth Jones and Zach Werenski, what does the front office view as a window for a championship. Is the team's window even open?
It is completely fine to enjoy the ride. It is completely fine to enjoy the process that has brought us to this point with the team. But it would be foolish to think that they haven't stagnated. Shaking the tree may not be a bad idea, who knows what may fall to the floor. Let's hope it is a point per game superstar.
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