Tuesday, January 15, 2013

CBJ 2013 Schedule Breakdown

The Blue Jackets home opener is next Monday night against everyone's favorite Detroit Red Wings.  Because of the lockout, the team is offering a buy one, get one ticket free.  If you buy online, Ticketmaster is also waiving any ticket fees normally done through their site.  You also get the following:

Season ticket holders get a little more throughout the season for sticking with the club through 1.5 lockouts.  In fact this game is even on NBC Sports Network.  What's that?  A nationally televised game? Are you serious? WAHOOOOOOOO.  

What are my expectations?  Similar to the Cavs, I have high hopes but mixed expectations.  I said the Cavs could potentially go 41-41 and they are obviously probably going to struggle to win 20-25 games.  With that being said, our friend Boomer predicted a 20-22-6 season.  That would total 46 points and most likely fall in the 10th-14th place range.  I'll go one step further and say 21-20-7 for 49 points.  Look for several OT losses (and wins) this year due to the style of play this team is destined to play.  I envision frequent one goal games that could go either way.  The closer they are to 50 points, the closer they are to the 8th spot (based on my estimation that 55 points will get you in which is based on the 1994-95 48 game lockout season)

Okay, let's get into it...Red are home games, black are away games.

Eight games total.  Four home.  Four away.  Pretty simple stuff.  If you don't recall, CBJ will play the Red Wings and Predators five times each and Blackhawks and Blues each four times throughout the whole season (18 games).  The rest of the West will be played three times apiece (30 games).  Right away the season kicks off with a bang.  After starting last season at home vs Nashville, the CBJ will get a chance for revenge in Nashville.  Then it's the crazy home opener against the now Lidstrom-less Red Wangs.  Throw in a game against Chicago and St. Louis, you got the whole Central Division in there!  I'd obviously like to see the team go 4-4 and 2-2 within the division.  Three of the four divisional match ups are at home.  Dallas, Minnesota, and Colorado are the only three that didn't make the playoffs.  You will also notice off days are at a premium.  Four game weeks will be frequent throughout the season.

Building off the final day of January, the CBJ are blessed with a stretch of six straight home contests.  In a shortened season it will be imperative to get off to a good start.  With only 12 games this month, the Blue Jackets actually get a favorable first 20 games of the season.  Again, another four divisional opponents to face and hopefully the CBJ can go 2-2 and 6-6 overall.  The stretch of Calgary, Edmonton, and San Jose are all very winnable games.  Heck, the defending champs even come to town.  The key stretch is the three away games in Detroit, St. Louis and Chicago at the end.

Alright, here is where it gets a little cray cray.  The team plays 16 games in just 31 days.  Through March 16th, they literally play every other day including a back-to-back weekend slate on the 9th/10th.  What's the silver lining?  Of the total 16 games, 11 are at HOME including nine of the first 11.  That means, up to the game on the 22nd, 19 of their first 31 games are at Nationwide Arena.  Bottom dwellers, that, in a nutshell, is throwing the CBJ a bone after coming off their worst finish and offseason in team history.  I will again say they need to go 8-8.  They play a home and home vs Detroit, play Chicago twice, and play Nashville twice the same week.  3-3 would be super duper!

For starters, Wednesday April 3rd is the trade deadline.  It's nice the organization doesn't have a game that day.  The bad news? There's only 12 games afterwards!  In a span of just over three weeks, the CBJ finish the season with 12 games.  If the CBJ take advantage of the early schedule favoritism, it will benefit them here greatly as the final month gets a little tricky.  Eight of the 12 are away including the final six of seven.  The final west coast road trip will (if it hadn't already) likely end any hope of CBJ making a push to the playoffs.  Hopefully they can play well and look who we have to finish!  We started in Nashville, might as well bring 'em to Columbus to finish this bad boy.  On another positive note, we will have finished our games with Detroit and Chicago by this point and will only need to handle St. Louis and Nashville twice this month, ha.  Again, 6-6 overall and 2-2 in the division would be sweeeeeeet. 

Final Verdict

As you can see I call for a 24-24 season.  Wouldn't that be lovely? Duh!  48 points is just one point off my more realistic looking hockey prediction of 21-20-7 (49 points).  Either way, this team is just short of a playoff spot in my honest opinion.  This team will be fun to watch as they seem to have a hardworking identity now instead of the "team that Rick Nash plays for."  Frankly, it wouldn't surprise me to see them play better without him.  It's not a slight against Slick Rick but both parties needed a fresh start.  Overall, I see CBJ finishing a little better than most expected and in the 11th spot overall in the West.  With much to build off of and a new salary cap for next season, CBJ will be in prime position to finally make some noise for the 2013-2014 regular season.  They will have THREE first round draft picks in this year's draft and Steve Mason coming off the books!  With a very deep draft class being projected (unlike last year which was extremely top heavy), the firm of Davidson, Patrick, & Howson will have plenty to work with.

See ya Saturday night at 8 nerds!!!!!!!!!!!!

PS:  Go Pens, waka waka chew baka