2017-18 Columbus Blue Jackets Season
45-30-7, 97 points, 4th Metropolitan, 7th East
Made Playoffs as First Wildcard
Goals for: 242 (16th of 31)
Goals against: 230 (10th of 31)
Playoff Results: Lost in First Round (4-2) vs. Washington Capitals
The Columbus Blue Jackets had an up and down season in 2017-18. The team started fast before injuries in November, December, and January derailed the team. The Jackets fell out of a playoff spot near the All Star Break before making three trades at the Trade Deadline that stabilized the lineup. After the Deadline, the team won ten games in a row and secured a berth in the playoffs in game 81.
Once in the playoffs, the Columbus Blue Jackets jumped to a 2-0 series lead over the Metropolitan Division winning Washington Capitals before losing 4 straight games (3 of them on home ice) to fall in the series 4-2.
On its face, this season appears to have been a success: the team did make the playoffs, after all. But was it?
The Columbus Blue Jackets were a middling team for much of the year before a hot streak toward the end of the season lifted them from the cluster of teams fighting for the final wild card spot and solidly into the playoff picture with a few weeks remaining. Much of their struggle can be attributed to injuries, but every team suffers those. The Jackets did not weather their injuries well, and the lack of depth at the center position was seriously exposed as a weakness of the roster management and construction.
Where the season falls apart, and the reason it cannot be considered a success, is the results of the postseason.
Yes, the Blue Jackets made it to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second year in a row, the first time in franchise history they have done that. A milestone, yes, but the smallest milestone possible. More than half of the league makes it to the playoffs every year, and given the talent on the roster (Artemi Panarin, Sergei Bobrovsky, Seth Jones), making it to the playoffs should not be a goal - it should be the baseline expectation for a team that is growing and phasing in talented young players in key roles.
The team took a step forward by winning the first two games on the road in Washington, their first ever series in lead in the playoffs. It did not matter. The Blue Jackets lost their next four straight games, including three on home ice, to crash out of the playoffs in six games.
That crushing end to the series, coupled with the failure to win even a single game on home ice in the playoffs (where the team was 26-12-3 in the regular season), is why the season is a failure.
Once the Blue Jackets won the first two games of their series, the expectations were raised. No longer were they a plucky underdog who could maybe keep the series close. They were given 80+% chances of advancing by most metrics. A win in one of the following two games would have, at worst, sent the series back to Washington where the Capitals have seen collapse after collapse occur, and the fanbase would have been on edge. Instead, the Blue Jackets failed to adjust to the Capitals taking away Artemi Panarin, ceded all momentum back to the Capitals in an utter collapse in all phases in Game Four, and bowed out meekly in Game Six.
Simply making the playoffs is not good enough for this team anymore. The time has come, and the talent is present, to start taking steps toward winning a Stanley Cup. The Jackets had an excellent chance to do that this season, and failed to take advantage of that chance. That failure is no longer acceptable.
How do fans see this season? Vote below!
Was the 2017-18 Columbus Blue Jackets season a success?
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