Depending on your perspective, the shortened season is either exhilarating or worrying.
In most cases, your perspective is likely based on how well the Columbus Blue Jackets are playing.
Based on the results thus far, this season could fairly be referred to as exhilaratingly worrying.
But over the next two weeks, the Blue Jackets have an opportunity to take at least a little bit of worry for their fanbase.
Wildly inconsistent this season - they've not yet won or lose more than two games in a row - Columbus is entering a stretch of seven games where the bar must be set at winning no less than five of those games. Or, another way to put it: they have to win more than two in a row over at least once over the next two weeks.
This specific stretch of games is important for a variety of reasons, the biggest of which is simply that Columbus is better than their opponents in those seven games. Here's what's on tap:
|NEXT SEVEN GAMES|
|THURSDAY, 2/18, 7:00 PM||vs.|
|SATURDAY, 2/20, 7:00 PM||vs.|
|TUESDAY, 2/23, 7:00 PM||vs.|
|THURSDAY, 2/25, 7:00 PM||vs.|
|SATURDAY, 2/27, 3:00 PM||@|
|SUNDAY, 2/28, 3:00 PM||@|
|TUESDAY, 3/2, 7:00 PM||vs.|
A few key takeaways from these games:
- These are, in reality, the three worst teams of the other seven in the division. Nashville and Detroit are almost a lock to finish in the last two spots in the division, and while Chicago is ahead of Dallas in the standings, games played is a big reason why. Beyond that, the eye test tells us Dallas > Chicago.
- Five games at home, and at least one of those has the potential to be in front of fans. The Blue Jackets are a little bit better at home - 10 points in eight home dates thus far, while the club has only eight points in their nine road games.
- These are consistent games, but only one is a back-to-back, so Columbus should stay rested without losing any momentum they can build.
- Four games against the Nashville Predators, who have only four wins since sweeping Columbus in the Music City to start the season 2-0-0. This is an opportunity for no less than six points.
- Two more against Chicago, who the Blue Jackets are 2-1-1 against on the season. The Blackhawks have been a bit of a surprise, and Chicago is absolutely a team that Columbus will need to finish ahead of in the standings if they have dreams of a fifth straight Stanley Cup Playoff appearance.
Right now, Columbus is on pace for 59 points. No one is entirely sure what will be needed to qualify for the postseason, but it very likely will be in the range of 63-65 points.
If Columbus can perform well against teams they should perform well against over these next two weeks, a 5-2-0 stretch is easily attainable. If they can do that, the Blue Jackets will find themselves at 12-8-4 (28 points) through 24 games. That would bump their pace from 59 points to 65.
That ought to keep things exhilarating.