Left Wing Matt Calvert (#11) of the Columbus Blue Jackets raises his arms to celebrate his goal

Despite The Odds, Blue Jackets Continue to Battle

For those of us stats nerds – I’m a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), something I utilize for my ‘day job’ – there is a valuable resource to determine each National Hockey League (NHL) teams mathematical chances for qualifying for the Stanley Cup playoffs.  The website is Sports Club Stats.

In using the website to assess the Columbus Blue Jackets chances to make the playoffs, Sports Club Stats currently calculates that the Blue Jackets have a 1.6% chance to make the playoffs and that includes a 1.2% increase in their odds after two impressive victories against the Philadelphia Flyers and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Even with the relative increase in playoff-qualifying odds, a 1.6% chance to make the playoffs is rather dire.  With 26 games remaining, assuming that the 8th and final Eastern Conference slot requires approximately 92 points and the Blue Jackets currently have 55 points, they would have to finish the rest of the regular season with a 18-7-1, 17-6-3 record or some combination thereof.

However, given that the Blue Jackets did salvage what otherwise appeared to be a lock for the NHL’s draft lottery’s top picks, namely Jack Eichel or Connor McDavid, by going on an 11-1-0 run in December, such a finishing run is not out of the question.

It’s also interesting to note that during the strike-shortened 2012-13 regular season, the Blue Jackets went on a furious 19-5-5 run, only to miss the last playoff slot as a result of losing the tie-breaker to the Minnesota Wild and Detroit Red Wings who they shared the same final point totals with.

And much unlike the shallow ‘player-speak’ uttering’s of the Blue Jackets previous regime and players, this team will not quit until they are mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.  This is a team of immense pride, one of a tight, all-in, solid clubhouse.  This is not a team, as in previous seasons/regime, when the Blue Jackets were eliminated from the playoffs yet played not for pride but rather for their collective future contract negotiations.

And although the Blue Jackets have been ravaged by injuries as they lead the NHL in ‘man games lost’ with 233 total games lost to injury they continue to battle for that elusive 8th and final spot in spite of the doomsday forecast by most media members.  However, much unlike what excuses most journalists make – the upside of my having been a former collegiate athlete – most athletes/players, coaches and management will never use the excuse of injuries as a reason for not achieving their intended goals – not this team, not this locker room, not this organization.

Although there is no timetable for the return of Nathan Horton, out since the end of last season with back issues and although Ryan Murray is still 2-4 weeks away from a return of this second of three injury-plagued seasons as well as Boone Jenner still a few weeks away from returning from back surgery, help is on the way in the near return of 2013 Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky from a groin injury.

However, backup goalie Curtis McElhinney might not relinquish the starting duties, if his recent stellar play is any indication.  McElhinney has posted stats similar to Bobrovsky’s stellar 2012-13 season, posting a Goals Against Average (GAA) of 2.09 and a Save Percentage (Save %) of .936.  No matter who the starting netminder is, the Blue Jackets can breathe a little easier in not rushing Bobrovsky back into the net.

Offensively, the Blue Jackets leaders are also starting to hit their stride.  Brandon Dubinsky who missed the first two months of the season with abdominal surgery has recently found his stride, registering six points in his last four games with four goals during that span.

Nick Foligno has also caught fire during a five-game span prior to a one-game stint with an injury, registering seven points with three goals during that period.

Ryan Johansen continues his hear point per game pace and has been a first-line stalwart for the Blue Jackets.  And Scott Hartnell has been on an eight-game point scoring streak, with 11 points and four goals during that period.

Yes, the odds are greatly stacked against the Blue Jackets, but this ‘never say never’ squad will continue to battle until the very end.