Columbus Blue Jackets
The Blue Jackets made a ton of noise at the trade deadline as they acquired forwards Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingle from the Ottawa Senators, defenseman Adam McQuaid from the New York Rangers, and goalie Keith Kinkaid from the New Jersey Devils. It was clear that GM Jarmo Kekalainen was making a push for not only the playoffs but for the Stanley Cup.
The only issue is that it hasn’t worked for the Blue Jackets yet. With 15 games to go Columbus is two points out of a playoff spot. The addition of so many new faces has clearly thrown whatever balance or rhythm the Blue Jackets had going into the trade deadline.
Maybe its because they all know it won’t last. With Panarin, Duchene, Bobrovsky, and Dzingle being unrestricted free agents in July most if not all won’t be back. Leaving CBJ with a huge talent vacuum for 2019-2020.
That lack of cohesion and identity could be huge for the Islanders if they were to face the Blue Jackets in round one. Even though the Blue Jackets aren’t in a playoff position now, the two-point gap they currently face isn’t insurmountable.
It won’t take a crazy run of form that could only be achieved by coming together as a unit for the Blue Jackets to make the playoffs.
If the Blue Jackets make the playoffs, their lack of cohesion will still be there hanging around the team like a smelly hockey bag. The opposite is true of the Islanders.
From day one Lou Lamoriello has preached that being a team is what brings success. That philosophy is what has brought the Islanders to the playoffs this season and what could give them a significant edge over a more talented Blue Jackets team.
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It’s true that the Blue Jackets are pretty good at limiting the number of high-danger chances against. Which doesn’t help the New York Islanders. But with the cohesive way that the Islanders play and how the Blue Jackets seem disjointed at the moment, I’d take them in a first-round matchup.