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The 5th Line Report: Time's of the Essence

by Martin Poston / Columbus Blue Jackets



No one is really panicking, per se, but time is not a friend of the Columbus Blue Jackets right now.

That does not only refer to the big picture of this season, in which the Jackets sit at 6-12 at the halfway point of November.

Yes, there are 82 games this season, and a lot can happen in the remaining 64. However, after a 0-8 start, the Jackets have won two and lost two, then won two and lost two, and now won two again.

In the wins, we have seen the Jackets do too many things right while reestablishing their gritty, hard-to-play-against style. Even when the Jackets didn't necessarily put together the full 60 minutes in those wins, they were able to persevere. The wins they got on the California road trip -- especially the one against Los Angeles -- looked like a sign of things to come.

But make no mistake: Hockey is a 60-minute game. If you play 60 good, quality minutes, you are probably going to see a good outcome.

If you don't, it's a crapshoot. You work hard, you make mistakes and you have to rely on instinct, grit and a little bit of good old-fashioned puck luck.

And anyone who watches or plays hockey will tell you, hockey doesn't work like that. Hockey is too fast and too hard of a game to rely on luck if you play anything less than 60 minutes. Hockey can be a very unforgiving sport, indeed.

Tuesday's game against Vancouver is proof of that.

That loss dropped the Jackets to 0-6 at home. And there is no long road trip ahead to help clear their heads from the growing criticism by an increasingly frustrated fan base.

And the upcoming schedule does not look kind on paper. However, the Jackets need to use that as motivation.

The Blue Jackets play three of their next four at home. That is an opportunity for the Jackets to right the ship. It has to be.

John Tortorella's philosophy and style are taking hold in the dressing room. Players seem to be buying in, and they have won five of their last seven on the road as a result.

But establishing their game on home ice has to be a priority. Home ice is supposed to be an advantage. There's no better time than this week to prove it.

There may be 64 games left and plenty of time, but the urgency of the Jackets' situation cannot be overstated. The Jackets still have to find that game at home. They have to play 60 minutes. Set the tone. Take control and avoid costly mental mistakes.

There is still time. But it needs to be used wisely.

We’ll see you tomorrow at Nationwide Arena, 5th Line.

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