The Blue Jackets are 6-10-1 through 17 games, thanks to two straight wins. They are 7th in the Metro, and are technically five points behind the 3rd place team in the Metro. They are 14th in the East.
Last year, on November 12, the Jackets lost in overtime to Washington to move to 6-10-1 through 17 games. At that time, they were 8th in the division, and 14th in the East, and were five points behind the 3rd place team in the Metro.
So, if you're scoring at home, as bad as this team has been of late battling through injuries and ineffectiveness, they are in the exact same spot they were one year ago. To. The. Letter.
Obviously, the two squads took very different paths to get to where they found themselves through 17 games. The biggest difference? This team is going to get better. They've already started to get healthy again, and have made a move to help solidify their blue line while they wait. But, they could be getting as many as three more forwards back this week to a team that already looks more confident with Sergei Bobrovsky back from (freak) injury.
So, let's take a look at what this year's Jackets need to do to match last year's Jackets.
First and foremost, last year's team went 37-22-6 over their final 65 games to finish 43-32-7 (93 pts). If we think 93 points would be good enough (I tend to), there's your benchmark right there. So, in short, it's been done before and thus can be done again.
But, let's look at the next few weeks. Columbus didn't get over .500 until mid-January last season. Think about that for a second. It wasn't until early into the eight-game winning streak that the Jackets finally got to 21-20-4. That was the third win in their streak, and was their fourth win in five January games. So, let's make that the benchmark to shoot for first.
The Jackets need to go 15-10-3 in 28 games to get to that mark. Remember another thing: last December, they were without Bobrovsky for literally all but one half of a game of their 13 games. Yes, he could get injured again, but we can't make those kinds of predictions. Also, karma. Please. No more injuries.
This Jackets club as it currently looks is a lot closer to the unit that started 4-2-0 than it is the unit that went 0-8-1. They're poised to get Brandon Dubinsky, Matt Calvert, and Jack Skille back sometime in the next week or so. Mark Letestu should not be too far behind.
If we break the remaining season into quarters, we're left with four 16.25 game stretches. We'll just call them 16 game stretches for the sake of easier math. The Jackets basically need 80 points, or 20 points per 16-game stretch. That would mean they'd need to go something like 9-5-2 over each stretch.
That seems pretty reasonable, doesn't it? They were 4-2-0 in their first six before things went completely to hell. Could the team--without the injuries--have gone 5-3-2 over their next 10? I think so.
Of course, it's up to the team to prove it, and it certainly depends on how healthy they can get, and how long those guys are able to stay healthy. This team can handle one or two key injuries, but not the seven or eight that we've had.
Nothing is given, and those points must be earned. But, I think last year showed this team has the capability--when healthy--to play well enough to get back into it. It's only a matter of whether or not they can repeat history.