Friday, January 6, 2012

It's Make-Or-Break Month...

The Columbus Blue Jackets find themselves in a very tough position as 2012 gets underway. It was preventable, and yes, it's their fault. It is what it is.

The Jackets have begun ten road games in a span of 14 going into the first week of February. Thursday night's loss marked the beginning of a four-game road trip that includes the team's first Southern California tour, plus a stop in Chicago on the way home. Then the Jackets have a four-game homestand, then they hit the road again for the longest trip of the season... a six-game stretch that will include the team's other Southern California tour.

This is a gut check of epic proportions. The Jackets are running out of time. They will end up if one of three places by the first week of February:

1) The CBJ will actually get it together and climb in the standings, possibly making it up to... maybe 12th or something, and still potentially being in playoff contention (it's still mathematically possible… bear with me a moment).

2) The Jackets will fight bravely, but falter... but possibly still gain ground in the standings to the point where the rest of the league at least politely applauds them a little bit.

3) The CBJ will tank completely, and that whole "Fail4Nail" thing that is currently trending on Twitter will have worked its way into the team's marketing slogan.

The odds on that first one -- make no mistake -- are not exactly great. However, I think you have a hard time NOT finding CBJ fans who would love to see it.

The odds on the second -- based on our experience thus far this season -- admittedly seem much more likely. I would like to think that no one really wants to see that...

…or do they?

This brings me to the third option. To be honest, I'm only bringing it up because it's an attitude seems to be rising over last couple days, as CBJ fans watch the World Junior Championships.

I'm going to say it right now: This third option is not an option, nor should it be. Now, I honestly do not believe that management would want this team tank in order to get this Nail Yakupov in the draft. It would not be any more acceptable than the prospect of Sweden tanking in order to get an easier path to the gold-medal in 2006.

However, I'm finding it quite disturbing that this may be becoming the sentiment among some CBJ fans.

Hey, I'm as cynical as the next guy. I've certainly made my share of snarky remarks about this team. Do I do it to tear the team down? Absolutely not. I'm a bit of a smartass. I have a twisted sense of humor.

Inappropriate? Guilty again.

But of all things this team can do, quitting had better not be one of them.

This "Fail4Nail" thing going around is bull$#!+. Maybe I'm just being oversensitive about it, but it is.

Fans will say what they want to say, and that's their prerogative.

I respectfully disagree with those fans. Screw failure. Failure sucks. Hell, let Calgary have him. I wouldn't ever draft another Russian kid with my first round pick again if it was up to me.

Sorry... you know what they say. "Fool me twice...."

Now that that rant is out of the way… Here are the hard numbers:

The Blue Jackets have 43 games remaining.

Based on the 95-point mark for eighth seed, the Jackets need to win 35 of them.

Math made simple... the Jackets are out if they take nine more regulation losses.

So... will take a miracle for them to make the playoffs? Probably.

But it is not over until then.

So, how about we hold off on the "wait till next year" talk for little while longer? This team could still surprise the holy hell out if all of us. Then again, I may be wrong... and that's fine, too. I'll eventually get over that.

But for everything CBJ fans have gone through this year... remember that it can always be worse.

Mrs. Martini is from Cleveland. I need not say more than that... except that there is no way in hell that you can top the severity of that kind of sports misery. Period.

So, plan for the NHL Entry Draft all you want. I'm staying here.

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  1. I'm with you, I would absolutely love these guys to surprise all of us and light it up for the rest of the season. That is the best situation, and it's still mathematically possible. During every game, I'm still on the edge of my seat, pulling for a W. That's what fans do.
    That said, I understand the other side of the coin. Based on what I've seen so far, the likelihood of this team moving into playoff contention is slim at best, and moving into anything other than playoff contention only serves to worsen our draft choice. Other successful teams have rebuilt based on a couple number one picks, and that possibility may just seem a bit more realistic to some. I would never hope for it, but I'll take 30th over 25th place this year.

  2. What if the "failure" is a result of dropping the vets that aren't in the future plans and calling up the kids? Rookie skill/mistakes could be exciting to watch and still keep the record poor.

  3. I know it sounds a bit high-horsey on my part, but I think the only thing worse than a team that sucks is a team that's content to suck.

    If the Jackets manage to get the first overall, so be it. But it doesn't guarantee anything, and tanking to get it is unconscionable. That's my only point.

    Thanks for reading!

  4. Jeff: I could live with blowing up the roster, if I thought the roster was the entire problem. Arniel is clearly part of the problem. Howson could blow up the roster, but are we expected to wait through yet another rebuilding year, and can Howson sell this system to free agents this upcoming offseason? The dude kinda spent himself into a corner. Sadly, there's no easy solution, because barring the aforementioned miracle, the Jackets are sellers at the deadline.