The Remaining Columbus Blue Jackets Schedule is a Gauntlet

By Kyle Morrison on February 20, 2019 at 9:02 pm
The Blue Jackets will face the New York Islanders two mores times before the end of the season.
USA Today – Aaron Doster

For all the focus on the Columbus Blue Jackets’ eminent trade deadline day decisions, one thing is for sure: the road to the playoffs isn’t going to be an easy one.

The Blue Jackets’ trade deadline plans are anyone’s guess right now, with star players Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky being named in new rumors every day. Columbus can change its roster, but they can’t change what’s on the schedule beyond the deadline: an absolute gauntlet against some of the league’s best.

In the 18 games between the trade deadline and the end of April, Columbus – currently in the eighth playoff seed in the Eastern Conference – will play 11 games against teams that currently have a better record than they do. Another one of those games comes against the surging Carolina Hurricanes, who are breathing down the Blue Jackets’ necks for that final Wild Card spot at the moment.

That stretch also includes three games against the Blue Jackets’ fiercest rival, the Pittsburgh Penguins, who currently hold the third seed in the Metropolitan Division. 

Even their non-divisional games are brutal, with the second leg of a back-to-back falling against elite teams twice in this stretch (against Winnipeg and Boston, respectively). The travel schedule is pretty brutal, too, with the yearly three-game Western Canada swing falling into this stretch.

Let’s take a look at the rest of the schedule from here on out – spoiler alert: it’s brutal – including where each team is ranked within their respective conferences. Current playoff teams are in bold. 

Remaining Blue Jackets Regular Season Games
Date Opponent Conference Rank
2/22 at Ottawa 16th in East
2/23 vs San Jose 2nd in West
2/26 vs Pittsburgh 6th in East
2/28 vs Philadelphia 11th in East
3/2 vs Edmonton 14th in West
3/3  vs Winnipeg 3rd in West
3/5 at New Jersey 14th in East
3/7 at Pittsburgh 6th in East
3/9 vs Pittsburgh 6th in East
3/11  at NY Islanders 3rd in East
3/12 vs Boston 2nd in East
3/15 vs Carolina 9th in East
3/16 at Boston 2nd in East
3/19 at Calgary 1st in West
3/21 at Edmonton 14th in West
3/24 at Vancouver 12th in West
3/26 vs NY Islanders 3rd in East
3/28 vs Montreal 7th in East
3/30 at Nashville 4th in West
3/31 at Buffalo 10th in East
4/2 vs Boston 2nd in East
4/5 at NY Rangers 13th in East
4/6 at Ottawa 16th in East

What’s the most brutal stretch on that list? There’s a strong case to be made for March 9-12. Three games in four days, all against one of the league’s best teams, with the middle one coming on the road. 

Those three games are right in the middle of a stretch where six of seven games come against teams currently ahead of Columbus in the standings – and where the only exception is against the team they're fighting with for the final playoff position. 

Even the supposedly 'easy' games – which there truly are none of in this league – tend to fall on road trips. Just nine of the remaining 23 games come against teams that could be considered out of the playoff race. Seven of those nine games (!) come on the road – with two coming on the Western Canada swing and two more of those coming on back-to-back nights to close out the season.

Given that Columbus is just one point up on the Carolina Hurricanes for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, it’s clear that every single point matters as the season winds down. With that schedule, though, getting those points will be more challenging than ever. 

On the bright side, if they're up to the task, they could catapult themselves up the Eastern Conference standings. 

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