The Blue Jackets are struggling something fierce, and it can be hung on goaltending. At even strength, Steve Mason's .898 and Mathieu Garon's .908 save percentages are torpedoing the Blue Jackets' season. Ken Hitchcock knows it, and tried to tell Scott Howson and the rest of the world by going public with a "win and you're in" goaltending policy. Hitchcock is a good coach, but without overwhelming talent, a team isn't going to overcome a goaltending deficit like they have in Columbus. Hitchcock was blamed by the fanbase for alienating Nikolai Zherdev and Nikita Filatov, however, Zherdev was also alienated by John Tortorella and Nikita Filatov came close to throwing hands with Russian coach Vladimir Plyushchev.
That's neither here nor there. Apparently, the writing is on the wall for Hitchcock as even the Columbus papers have turned on Hitchcock. However, unless a new coach brings in a new goaltender, the Jackets have little chance of turning things around.
The ramifications could be far-reaching. It was just two months ago that the news broke that the Blue Jackets are near-broke. There has been little success for this franchise (just two home playoff games in nine years) and attendance is flagging. The Blue Jackets draw only a 1.43 share in the television ratings, which sadly is ninth out of twenty-four U.S.-based teams in the NHL. As Mirtle reported:
Even if the Blue Jackets sold another 2,500 tickets a game and went on a run to the second round of the playoffs, they would still be in the red.
A fourteenth place finish in the Western Conference this year is not going to help with attendance, ratings or playoff revenues, regardless of the problems with market conditions.
Columbus versus Edmonton, 14 vs. 15, the battle of the cellar dwellers, something's got to give, someone's got to win.