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The Blue Jackets at the quarter pole

By Tom

As I type, it’s been just a few hours since Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson was removed from his position with the organization.

We’re a quarter of the way through the truncated 2013 National Hockey League season, folks.  One quarter of a normal season is 20 games.  This season, it’s twelve.

Things happen fast (like losing your team’s general manager after twelve games of working with the new president of hockey operations), and the effect of a small string of games can make or break a team’s season.

With that said, let’s look at the Columbus Blue Jackets thus far.  The team is 4-7-2 and sits in 13th place in the Western Conference.  They have 10 standings points, four behind Phoenix in the chase for the eighth and final playoff slot.  If you believe SportsClubStats.com, the team will need to post a 20-11-4 or better record from here on out to have a better than 50 percent chance at making the playoffs.  That’s a high bar.

This team has not had time to gel.  But why?  For starters, the team has been maddeningly inconsistent – something I attribute to the incredible level of roster turnover and the insane six day/no exhibition game training camp.  Then, with the condensed game schedule, the team has had precious little time to practice.

And don’t take my word for it, ask the coach himself.  In his postgame presser on “Blue Jackets Live” after Monday’s San Jose game, Todd Richards suggested that the team has been inconsistent.  In fact, he said that he can only think of four complete games from the team thus far: Game 1 against Nashville, game 5 against Chicago, game 12 against Edmonton and game 13 against San Jose.  Four complete games out of thirteen isn’t terrific, but it could be a lot worse.  In fact, the back-to-back strong performances in game 12 and 13 suggest the possibility that consistency could be coming.  If that’s the case, 20-11-4 is not totally out of the question.

The upcoming six-game road trip, which kicks off in Los Angeles on Friday night, will be very telling.  If the Blue Jackets grab a bushel of points against the likes of L.A., Phoenix, San Jose, Detroit, St. Louis and Chicago – no small order, to be sure – then they’re right back in the playoff hunt.

With no games until Friday, let’s call it here.  I’ll offer some first quarter player-oriented thoughts in my next post.

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