With two games down and one to go on the Columbus Blue Jackets’ three-game California visit, the team finds itself in need of a couple points tonight in order to come home with anything to show for the trip. Unfortunately for the CBJ, tonight’s opponent, the San Jose Sharks, is the most formidable of the three according to the standings. Puck drop is scheduled for shortly after 9:00 PM ET.
For a team slipping in and out of the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference as the Jackets are, every game is a key opportunity to keep pace with the other teams competing for that spot.
That’s the state of the team at the moment: just tread water and hope to stick around in the playoff race.
Less than a week after things were looking up for the CBJ when they soundly beat the Metropolitan Division-leading Washington Capitals on trade deadline day, two straight losses have put a damper on the mood of the fans.
In the Jackets’ dressing room, however, the mindset of the team remains positive. Following the loss on Friday night, head coach John Tortorella said:
You can’t get down, you can’t overthink it, we’re not going to beat them up, we’re going to have to keep on trying to grow.
Something that can help the CBJ immediately is simply getting healthy. Josh Anderson is expected to miss another 3-4 weeks with a knee injury and Alexander Wennberg, who was a late scratch on Friday, is day-to-day with an upper body injury.
The front office of the Blue Jackets made a few moves last week to help the team down the stretch, but we have yet to see the full product on the ice. Due to the seemingly significant injury to Anderson, we may not see a full, healthy squad until April. What we don’t know is if that’ll be in time to make a difference. It’s up to the players in the dressing room to step up and get it together, starting tonight in San Jose.
Every game for the CBJ is of utmost importance at this time of the season. The search for consistency has gone on for a few months at this point, and there are still questions surrounding the team. The goal tonight is simple: take the two points that are up for grabs. Do that then move on to the next one. For the Jackets, developing consistency starts tonight against the Sharks.