The Blue Jackets marched into Philadelphia last night after blowing a 2-0 lead against cellar-dweller New Jersey the game prior. While Columbus did manage to tie the game in the closing minutes and take it to overtime, they did falter in the shootout but still left the building with a point in hand. Enter Tuesday night in a matchup against the Flyers and you’ve got a Blue Jackets team hungry to move up in the standings. The problem with that is…so was Philly.
Columbus had a hole dug for them during the game, but they were without a ladder tall enough to climb out of it. Oliver Bjorkstrand, who right now seems to be the only offensive spark for the team, scored the lone Jackets goal. It wasn’t nearly enough as a couple of ugly bounces and three well-placed shots saw the Flyers walk away victorious with a final of 5-1.
As the Blue Jackets radio play-by-play commentator (Bob McElligott) stated earlier this week, despite all the injuries the team has suffered this season, if there was one player they couldn’t afford to lose, it was Seth Jones.
Well, here we are.
The team’s greatest strength is their defense and they have lost their greatest defenseman. For those out there who argue one player should not make that much of a difference, look at the Blue Jackets.
Seth Jones’ absence has created a glaring flaw in the team. Yes, Zach Werenski is a very good defenseman, but make no mistake, despite the fact he has more goals (by far) than Jones this season, he is not the level of defenseman that Seth Jones is. That is an important notation because Werenski is the second-best on the team at that position. It is a significant drop-off after that.
The team is without Jones for the remainder of the season due to his fractured ankle. If, and this is a big ‘if’, he is ready at the close of the season, I seriously believe it will not matter as this team’s perseverance got hit with a strong dose of reality that is unlikely to be overcome. I hope I am wrong, however, it’s like somebody took the handlebars off the bike and you still have to ride it.
The chances of them making the playoffs with an anemic offense and a subtracted defense do not add up to a beneficial equation.