The 2015-2016 season is 16 games old for the Columbus Blue Jackets and so far the highlight has been the relatively good health the team has seen in comparison to last season. Columbus finds themselves sitting at a 4-12-0 record, in the basement of the entire NHL. In the words of the wise Obi-Wan Kenobi “This is not the
droid start you are looking for.”
Thankfully, there are some positives to look at with this team so far. Boone Jenner has scored 8 goals and is developing himself as a leader in this group. Ryan Murray is healthy and contributing, showing some signs of his enormous potential. Finally, veterans Brandon Dubinsky and Scott Hartnell are consistently getting themselves on the score sheet.
Unfortunately, the negatives are vastly outweighing the positives. Let’s take a look at the top 3, although the list could be a lot longer.
1. Sergei Bobrovsky. The Blue Jackets live and die by the play of Bob – and why not? This guy has been the backbone of this team for the last few seasons. When he was injured last year, the team stumbled. He’s a Vezina winning goalie. At the end on the day, he’s one of the top goalies in the league. However, that was before the 2015-16 season. This year Bobrovsky has posted a 3.65 GAA and a .882 SV% in 13 games. When you’re giving up 3-4 goals a game, the team is going to be in trouble. He has all four wins though, exemplifying his impact to the team.
2. Ryan Johansen. The future of this franchise may be on his back. The first true number one centre Columbus has ever had. The 4th overall pick in the 2010 entry draft has taken a step forward in every year of his professional career. Through the first 16 games, Johansen has scored just one goal and is a -6. His 9 assists are promising, but he is currently on pace to score 58 points this season, which would be a major step back from his 71 last season. He was benched by Tortorella and accused of being out of shape by the new head coach. He has missed a couple of games due to illness and was given the day off on Wednesday for maintenance, so he still may get his legs under him yet.
3. Special Teams. The Blue Jackets have the worst powerplay in the league at 25%. Similarly, the penalty kill sits at the bottom. Going into Thursday’s games, Columbus’ kills penalties at a 75% rate, better than only the Boston Bruins. It is conceivable that a coaching change and learning a new system is going to provide a learning curve and may lead to some struggles. One thing is for sure, special teams are going to have to improve if the Blue Jackets want to salvage the season.
When it rains it pours, and that’s what’s happening in Columbus. Perhaps they are just getting all the adversity out of the way early, or perhaps this team just doesn’t have what it takes. It’s an enormous cause for concern when your two most important players are your two biggest question marks 16 games into the season. The Columbus Blue Jackets need Obi-Wan and the Force to help erase this abysmal start.