The final 2022 entry for our second NHL Saturday miniseries has us examining the brief history of the Columbus Blue Jackets, a team that has never won the Stanley Cup. But as the only NHL team from the state of Ohio, the Blue Jackets represent a proud state with a strong affinity for the best sport in North America. In 22 seasons since the organization played its first game in 2000, Columbus has only made the postseason six times, so that’s what we’re dealing with this weekend. Happy New Year!

No. 5: 2012-2013 Columbus Blue Jackets

In a 48-game shortened season (due to labor strife), the Blue Jackets posted a 24-17-7 record to finish with 55 points—good enough for fourth place in the NHL Central Division, yet not quite good enough for the Stanley Cup playoffs. An anemic offense placed Columbus just 25th out of 30 teams for goal scoring, but the defense was a Top-10 unit that allowed just 119 goals on the season … one less than the offense scored. In almost all ways, this was a team that was just barely above average.

Aging center Vinny Prospal (12G, 18 A) was the only skater on the team to finish with at least 30 points, showing the dire lack of scoring prowess on this roster. But defenseman Fedor Tyutin (4G, 18A, 28 PIMs, 24:06 ATOI) was a bright spot, as was the goaltending: Sergei Bobrovsky won the Vezina Trophy for his efforts in net (21-11-6, 2.00 GAA, 932 S%, 4 SOs). Imagine where the team would have been without their young goalie, who was playing in his first season with the organization.

No. 4: 2017-2018 Columbus Blue Jackets

Finishing with 97 points, these Blue Jackets sported a 45-30-7 record to finish fourth in the Metropolitan Division—which, unfortunately, got them a first-round playoff date with the eventual Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals. Columbus lost that matchup in six games, which featured four overtime contests. The Blue Jackets took a 2-0 lead in the series on the road, before dropping four straight matchups. The pivotal fifth game went to overtime, and that’s where Columbus’ season came crashing down.

Left wing Artemi Panarin (27G, 55A) led the No. 16 offense in the league, while Bobrovsky enjoyed another Vezina-worthy season by compiling a 37-22-6 record with a 2.42 GAA, a .921 S%, and 5 SOs. He struggled in the postseason, as his GAA rose to 3.18 for the series against the Capitals. The offense managed 18 goals in 6 games, so the closeness of the series really did pivot on those overtime games, particularly Game 5 on the road.

No. 3: 2013-2014 Columbus Blue Jackets

Another fourth-place finish in the Metropolitan was built upon a 43-32-7 record and 93 points. The Blue Jackets finished 13th in scoring and 12th in defense, which amounted to a first-round series loss in six games to the Pittsburgh Penguins. The series was tied at two games apiece, but Columbus dropped the last two matchups by a combined 3 goals. The Pens had the core of players that would go on to win both the 2016 and 2017 Cup championships, so you can see what kind of “luck” the Blue Jackets had.

Columbus had only three skaters top 50 points on the season, led by C Ryan Johansen (33G, 30A, 43 PIMs), who was just 21 years old. But D James Wisniewski (7G, 44A, 61 PIMs) was certainly a bright spot, as was Bobrovsky once again: 32-20-5, 2.38 GAA, .923 S%, and 5 SOs. This was a quality team that just ran into a better team in the postseason, and Bobrovsky couldn’t get hot enough to carry his team past a tough draw. Hardly his fault, of course, so we don’t place blame there.

No. 2: 2018-2019 Columbus Blue Jackets

The second-best team in franchise history put up 98 points with a 47-31-4 record, which only netted a fifth-place finish in the Metro this time. Go figure! That’s a rough division, obviously, as we have seen above with the postseason matchups. This iteration finished No. 12 in offense and No. 11 in defense, and after Columbus beat the Tampa Bay Lightning with a shocking first-round sweep, the Blue Jackets couldn’t sustain the success against the Boston Bruins in the second round, losing in six games.

Panarin (28G, 59A) topped the roster in scoring again, while two young defensemen made great contributions: Seth Jones (9G, 37A, 28 PIMs, 25:49 ATOI) and Zach Werenski (11G, 33A). In his final season with the team, Bobrovsky posted 9 SOs, while producing a 37-24-1 record. In the historic sweep of the top team in the league (which won a record-tying 62 games), Bobrovksy was at his all-time best: a .932 S% that kept the Lightning out of the net for most of the series.

No. 1: 2016-2017 Columbus Blue Jackets

With 50 wins and 108 points, this was the best team in organizational history, both sabermetrically and surface-statistically based. And it still only got Columbus a third-place finish in the Metro! The offense was there (sixth in goals scored), and the defense was better than ever, too (second in fewest goals allowed). This was a Top-5 team in the league, for sure, but playing the defending/eventual Cup champs from Pittsburgh doomed the Blue Jackets (again): The Pens dropped Columbus in five games.

Five skaters posted between 50 and 62 points for good scoring balance, led by right wing Cam Atkinson (35G, 27A). Jones (12G, 30A) and Werenski (11G, 36A) once again were dynamic, while Bobrovsky won the Vezina vote (despite our “disagreement“) with another stellar season: 41-17-5, 2.06 GAA, .931 S%, and 7 SOs. This team honestly had everything going for it—except playoff-matchup fortune, of course, which seems to be a recurring theme here.