The amount of injuries the Columbus Blue Jackets have sustained in the 2019-20 season is nothing short of uncanny. They have effectively exhausted call-ups from the Cleveland Monsters, but as those injuries mended, players returned as did normalcy to the Columbus roster. Still, the injuries persisted and it has become one massive scenario of wash, rinse repeat.
Over a week ago, all-star defenseman Seth Jones underwent surgery to repair a fractured ankle, putting his return somewhere in the realm of two months out…minimum. As stated in my previous article, Jones’ absence has certainly affected the team negatively. Hey, it’s a tough break, no pun intended, but the team has starting goalie Joonas Korpisalo returning soon. As long as we don’t lose anyone else, we can still have a shot at those playoffs, right?
That was until last night in the closing moments of regulation against the Flyers when the Jackets’ leading goal scorer, Oliver Bjorkstrand, hit the wall awkwardly and did not return for overtime. Today, news broke clarifying his injury. If Seth Jones’ broken ankle wasn’t enough, now the team has lost their greatest offensive threat as Bjorkstrand is out eight to ten weeks with a broken ankle of his own.
At this point, it feels like a dark comedy.
What has befallen Columbus this season is unbelievably ridiculous if nothing else. We are talking lottery odds here, folks. A team doesn’t have this many injuries throughout the regular season and lose this many key players so close to a playoff run unless the hockey Gods absolutely have it out for the Jackets. It has been a horse pill to swallow and there’s no glass of water in sight.
Ask head coach John Tortorella his next move and he’ll respond with a determined, “We’ve got to find a way.” Ask me and I hate to say it, but this team’s goose is cooked. It is an unfortunate ending to what was an otherwise promising mid-season run. This squad, as tight-knit as they may be, does not have the weapons to keep the pace.
They have lost back-to-back games against the Flyers who have leap-frogged Columbus in the standings. What felt like a bit of a downward slide 48 hours ago for the Jackets has since become a nosedive. I’m no Nostradamus, but if you watch the standings closely over the next four weeks, witness Columbus slowly lose their grip and continue to slip in the standings.
Am I pessimistic? Guilty as charged. It’s also a dose of reality in what this team is facing.