On the Road Again

Over the years there have been a lot of reasons the Jackets as an organization have not been successful. Some factors include not having a top line center, poor defense, poor coaching...the same old song and dance. Most of us have experienced it all. One thing we've all seen, but may have never really put it perspective is the team's performance on the road.

We're going to take a little trip down memory road, so I'm sorry ahead of time for the bad memories. Don't fret - I think I see the light at the end of the tunnel.

As with any franchise in the history of everything, the early years aren't pretty. Add that to being on the road, in unfamiliar waters, with hostile crowds. It just all ends up being bad news for the new team trying to prove themselves in a tough, tough league. Below is a table of Columbus' records on the road during their first four years of existence. (Hey, ties, remember those things? Yes, those things.)

 

Year

Wins

Losses

Ties

OT Losses

Points

Point %

2000-01

9

24

5

3

26

31.71%

2001-02

8

29

3

1

20

24.39%

2002-03

9

28

3

1

22

26.83%

2003-04

8

27

4

2

22

26.83%

 

Wow. That hurts. Surprisingly, the inaugural season provided the best road results of the "glory days." Regardless, going 9-24-5-3 will not get you anywhere. Keep in mind the Jackets didn't win more games on the road than at home. Between 2000-01/2003-04 the team won 19, 14, 20, and 17 games respectively.

Now take a look at the table below. These are the Jackets' win/loss records on the road post lockout in 2004:

 

Year

Wins

Losses

OT Losses

Points

Point %

2005-06

12

25

4

28

34.15%

2006-07

15

23

3

33

40.24%

2007-08

14

22

5

33

40.24%

2008-09

16

18

7

39

47.56%

2009-10

12

23

6

30

36.59%

 

Well, well, well. Thats certainly much easier on the eyes if I say so myself. The numbers still aren't overwhelming, but its proof that this club was on the verge of turning it around. Notice, again, lots of points were being left away from the confines of Nationwide Arena. I'm willing to bet after the league removed the tie from the standings, it made them more competitive. The number of home wins in each season look like this: 23, 18, 20, 25, and 20. So historically, this team is better when playing at home.

See anything that stands out? Maybe the 16-18-7 record for 39 points in 2008-09? Remember what happened that year? Thats right, Columbus made the playoffs. The proof is right there. Here's a simple formula: be competitive on the road + winning games = PLAYOFFS.

Before tonight's contest in New York, the Jackets have played eight road games. Looking back at the first 8 road games in each of the last 9 seasons the best, (best) record Columbus has posted was 4-4 last year, the worst record (point wise) was 0-6-2 in 2003-04 and 1-7 in 2005-06.

After the more than impressive road trip out west, the boys have posted an incredible 7-1 record away from home. Far and away better than any team in franchise history.

I'm not the only one to notice it, in an interview with the fine folks at Full Mental Jackets, ESPN's John Buccigross had this to say:

"The most impressive aspect of the Blue Jackets has been their play on the road. 7-1. Columbus historically has been a dreadful team on the road. This is sign of character which is of utmost important in hockey."

One of the themes this year has been establishing a winning team to get people back to the arena. Just picking up wins at home won't get the job done. They're well on their way to making Columbus a feared city to visit.

The way things are going, the sky is the limit. Continued success on the road will take them to where they want to be. If they get the job done away from home they can contend with any team in the league, because Nationwide Arena is not an easy place to play. Coach Arniel's team should be in every game at home this season.

I think the key to having a deep playoff run will be to get the wins away from home. So far so good right? With road games against the Islanders, Red Wings, Sabres, and Blues on the way, they'll have a chance to prove this isn't a team that is being streaky to start the year. If Columbus can win more games on the road than at home this year, home ice advantage can be ours!

Look out league, the Blue Jackets are coming to town!

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