There are many factors that influenced the poor season of the Columbus Blue Jackets last year.
Examining the results of the 2015-16 season, one statistic sticks out: winning streaks (or lack thereof). The CBJ seemingly could not put any stretches together of prolonged success. The Jackets had two winning streaks of 3 games or more. In fact, each of those two 3-game winning streaks ended at three. They never extended a streak to four games.
Looking at the results of every playoff team from a year ago, the closest any team got to having that level of “un-streakiness” was the Florida Panthers. They only had four winning streaks of 3 games or more. That still is twice as many as the Jackets. One of those streaks was even extended to 12 games.
For the record, two playoff teams had nine 3+ game winning streaks, the St. Louis Blues and the Dallas Stars. I want to repeat the Jackets total: two. They just could not string together any periods of sustained success. If the CBJ are going to get back to the postseason, they’re going to have to go on a run or two.
In the franchise’s previous two playoff appearances they were able to put together extended winning streaks. In 2008-09, the Jackets had winning streaks or three or more games with a high of four (they did that three times). In 2013-14, they had six such winning streaks with a high of eight.
By the same token, the Jackets need to avoid extended losing streaks throughout the course of next year if they want to make it back to the playoffs. Especially in the first eight games of the season. Going 0-8 to start a year isn’t good for anyone. And that’s exactly what the team did last year. Even if they just go .500 during that stretch, the entire outlook on the season is changed. Chances are Todd Richards doesn’t get fired seven games into the season. There’s a chance the Johansen-Jones trade never happens. The point is it’s impossible to tell what could have happened if the campaign got off to a better start.
After the historically bad start to the season last year they couldn’t get anything going the rest of the way. Perhaps it was inconsistent goaltending. Maybe it was the youth and inexperience being counted on earlier than expected. Whatever the reason may be, it’s hard to imagine a similar combination of extended stretches of poor play and lack of continued success again in 2016-17.
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