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Looking ahead for the Blue Jackets: Pay that Bread Man his money

After two strong seasons in Chicago, Artemi Panarin had a lot to smile about in his inaugural season in Columbus, including 82 points in 81 regular-season games, and a breakout in the playoffs. Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images

As each NHL team is eliminated from playoff contention -- either mathematically or by losing in the postseason -- we'll take a look at why its quest for the Stanley Cup fell short in 2017-18, along with three keys to its offseason and a way-too-early prediction for what 2018-19 will hold.


What went wrong

Another season with dominant stretches for the Columbus Blue Jackets, another spring with disappointment in the playoffs.

In 2017-18, Seth Jones continued his ascent as one of the league's next shutdown defensemen (and earned some Norris Trophy love), goalie Sergei Bobrovsky turned it on when he needed to, and we saw a star turn from the Bread Man, Artemi Panarin.

Goal prevention was big for the Blue Jackets, and it had to be: Columbus simply didn't score enough to begin the season. Through their first 54 games, the Blue Jackets scored only 2.5 goals per game, ranking 29th in the NHL. Their power play was dreadful at times.

Both areas improved during the season's final two months, but weren't good enough to knock off the Washington Capitals in the first round -- in particular, Columbus had a hard time answering Washington's power play.

Panarin's 82 points were a revelation, but the next-closest forward was Pierre-Luc Dubois (48 points). In the playoffs, where Panarin shined yet again, that drop-off in production became even more apparent.