Scoring goals is hard to do.
Just ask the Columbus Blue Jackets, who have scored the third-fewest goals per game in the NHL this season (2.55), only ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks.
If those three teams sound familiar at this point, they should; they are the three teams most likely to finish bottom-three in the league standings this season.
Yes, it's a goal-scorers league these days (especially in the regular season), which is why it's problematic that the Blue Jackets are one of just three teams that lacks even one 20-goal scorer so far this season.
Boone Jenner leads the club in scoring, having tallied 18 goals in 49 games. Patrik Laine (17 in 45), Kirill Marchenko (16 in 37), and Johnny Gaudreau (15 in 58) are within striking distance of the marker, as well. Or, put another way, Jenner, Laine, and Marchenko have a combined 51 goals, aka three more than Connor McDavid's 48 tallies.
The Blue Jackets are joined by the Chicago Blackhawks (Max Domi - 18) and Nashville Predators (Filip Forsberg - 19) as the only three clubs with the dubious distinction. Unsurprisingly, none are in the playoff hunt.
Laine is on a 31-goal pace over 82 games, and Marchenko is a pleasant surprise in an otherwise disappointing season. Gaudreau was unlikely to follow up his 40-goal campaign season from a year ago with his current linemates, and even so, it's hard to be upset about his overall production, as he's somehow managed to tally nearly a point per game (54 points in 58 games) with a rotating cast of lesser-quality linemates than he played with in Calgary. Jenner, who is steady as she goes, really shouldn't be an NHL team's top goal scorer at any point in the season, much less in late February.
Sunday's loss to the Minnesota Wild crystalized this lack of scoring punch. The club's two goals came from bottom-six wingers Mathieu Olivier and Liam Foudy. In combination, the two forwards have scored seven goals in 95 games this season.
Of course, none of this is terribly surprising. Bad team's are bad for reasons that we can easily discern. Injuries aside, the reality is that opposing defenses don't really have to worry too much about any one singular player popping off for an easy goal. The hope is that Marchenko can follow up this season with a 30-40-goal campaign next season, and that young players like Kent Johnson, Cole Sillinger, and Yegor Chinakhov can develop into more of a scoring threat. Then there's the elephant in the room, which is that the Blue Jackets are inching closer to having a chance of drafting a generational player that will likely lead the team in goal-scoring as early as next season.
Scoring goals is hard to do. If the Blue Jackets are to take a step in the coming years, they'll need to find additional firepower, and in a big way.