The Final Stretch, 4.0: For The Columbus Blue Jackets, A Good Week Was Also A Bad Week

By Ed Francis on March 27, 2023 at 1:45 pm
The San Jose Sharks and Columbus Blue Jackets are tied at the bottom of the standings, but there's plenty of company lined up behind them.
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Sometimes, I rabbit hole.

And this weekend became one of those times.

When was the last time the Columbus Blue Jackets gave up ten goals in two games and won them both?

I had to know. Surely it's happened before, right?

Nope. It hasn't. And to take it one step further, they've never even gave up nine goals in consecutive wins.

But it's late in the season and the Blue Jackets are within reach of the top overall pick, so let the bizarre, bat-shit crazy wins start flowing in — just in time to potentially hurt their chances at winning the top overall pick in this summer's all-important NHL Draft.

The Blue Jackets overtime wins — 7-6 over the Washington Capitals and 5-4 over the New York Islanders — gave them four all-important points, for better or worse, in the final month of the season. It put Columbus at 53 points, and in a tie with the San Jose Sharks for 32nd in the NHL. The Sharks have one fewer game remaining this season, and thus are in the driver's seat for the best chance at Connor Bedard. 

Losing isn't fun, but that's exactly why it's better for the organization if the losses pile up from here until April 14th. Break eggs to make the omelet, take a step back to leap forward, etc. 

With that, here's where things stand as of Monday afternoon:

Key takeaways:​

  • Columbus has an extremely tough week ahead of them: traveling to the Big Apple for a Tuesday night match against the New York Rangers, followed by a trip to Boston for the Bruins on Thursday to face a team that could break the record for the best season in league history. They're back home for a back-to-back Saturday and Sunday, but the Florida Panthers (Saturday) are hot right now and the Ottawa Senators (Sunday) are no slouch. If you want losses (you should definitely want losses, despite what a few happy-go-lucky's on Twitter tell you), this could be a good week. 
  • I did 20 simulations using the data from above, and here's how it shook out: The Blue Jackets held firm on the second overall pick just three times, and won the lottery only twice. They fell to third nine times, and dropped two spots to number four overall six times. In those same 20 simulations, the first pick went to the Sharks three times as often (six times) as it did Columbus. That overtime win in San Jose last week could prove worthy of a vomit emoji.
  • Injuries continue to mount for the Blue Jackets, which will give experience to guys like Hunter McKown but should also help a little bit with the lottery balls (there aren't actually any balls). Patrik Laine may not play again this season, and Erik Gudbranson, Mathieu Olivier, and Nick Blakenburg are in that same boat. 
  • Losses are piling up around the Blue Jackets. The three teams within three points of them — San Jose, the Anaheim Ducks, and the Chicago Blackhawks — are a combined 18-game losing streak (Sharks nine, Hawks five, and Ducks four). The Blue Jackets four points in their last five games are equal to those three teams in their last five games combined. On that note, Columbus is just three points out of a 65% chance of drafting outside of the top four. With four prospects head and shoulders above the rest, that's a scary thought. (...why would anyone find a win more valuable than a loss right now...?)
  • And here's a closer look at the other three teams in Columbus' orbit:

SJS San Jose has nine games left this season and they will likely be the underdog in every single one of them, as only two of those nine games are against teams not currently in a playoff spot. Those two games — Arizona and Calgary — are both on the road. A dose of reality: the Sharks probably have the inside track to the first pick.  

CHI The Blackhawks have lost five straight games, all by multiple goals. Three of their next five games are against teams on the outside looking in at a playoff spot, so hopefully they're able to win at least one of those games. The other two games are Dallas and New Jersey, both tough.

ANA Anaheim has not won since defeating the Blue Jackets 5-3 a couple of weeks ago. They host the Avalanche to conclude a lengthy homestand Monday night before heading north for games Thursday and Saturday in Seattle and Edmonton. The three point cushion is nice, but make no mistake about it: the Ducks could still very well finish behind the Blue Jackets and bear watching.

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