Columbus Blue Jackets' goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, of Russia, is silhouetted as he stands in front of his net before an NHL hockey game against the Vancouver Canucks in Vancouver, British Columbia, Friday, Nov. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck)

What’s wrong with the Blue Jackets?


The Columbus Blue Jackets’ season hasn’t been a disaster so far. They remain just five points shy of a playoff spot and they aren’t in the midst of a lengthy losing streak.

At the same time, this is a team that has turned failing to make the playoffs into a tradition. A hot start in the second half of the 2013 campaign put them a hair away from disrupting that and the hope was at least some of that momentum would carry into the current campaign.

It has’t. Even when they win decisively, as they did in Toronto on Monday, they are unable to build on it and so far that’s been their greatest crime. They aren’t consistently horrendous, they aren’t consistently anything, and they’ve averaged out to be something slightly less than nothing special.

“You can’t say we’re not trying,” defenseman James Wisniewski remarked to the Columbus Dispatch after their 4-0 loss to Nashville. He pointed to their harsh road schedule of late as part of the problem, which is an argument that would resonate more if they weren’t also 4-7-1 at home.

“Right now, we’re a little banged up,” Wisniewski added.

That certainly can’t be ignored. The team is without forwards Brandon Dubinsky (foot) and Marian Gaborik (knee) right now. They’re also still waiting on Nathan Horton (shoulder) to make his Blue Jackets’ debut.

Still, their issue might not be that simple.

Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards thinks that part of the problem could be a lack of leadership combined with the team’s relative youth. After all, they haven’t had a captain since Rick Nash left town. Even then though, Richards cautioned that there isn’t one single cause to the Blue Jackets’ struggles.

It certainly doesn’t help that goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky has been just as inconsistent as the rest of the squad. He was a big part of the Blue Jackets’ rise last season, but he has just a 2.85 GAA and .905 save percentage in 21 starts this season.

For what it’s worth, Bobrovsky doesn’t want to see his team making excuses for their poor play. That includes any suggestions that their recent rough schedule is to blame.

“We just didn’t have that extra jam, that extra gear that separates us from being a pain to play against and a team that is a half-step away,” Wisniewski said.

Perhaps that’s something they’ll get as the season progresses. Maybe that leadership, that extra something, will be Horton’s role when he’s ready to join his teammates on the ice.

Otherwise, it will be just another season, which for Columbus is a very bad thing.

Here are the 10 oldest players to play a game this season

Jaromir Jagr
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This isn’t breaking news or anything. We just thought you’d like to know that three of the NHL’s 10 oldest players (who’ve played at least one game this season) are members of the Florida Panthers.

Oh, and the Panthers’ starting goalie? He’s the oldest starter in the league. (Scroll down.)

Here’s the list of skaters, topped by 43-year-old Jaromir Jagr:


Yet another veteran Panther, 36-year-old defenseman Brian Campbell, ranks 17th on the list.

Granted, the above list does not include 39-year-old Patrik Elias (who’s hurt) or 39-year-old Eric Boulton (who just re-signed with the Isles). As soon as those two play, Thornton will get pushed out of the top 10.

Now here’s the list of goalies who’ve started at least one game this season, topped by 36-year-old Roberto Luongo:


For the record, Luongo isn’t the oldest goalie under contract. That would be Minnesota’s Niklas Backstrom, who’s 37.

Related: Can Florida’s old guys hang on while the young guys get better?

Hamburglar (groin) returns, Sens demote O’Connor

Andrew Hammond
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Matt O'Connor‘s time in the Canadian capital was brief, but still noteworthy.

O’Connor, the losing netminder in Sunday’s “Battle of the Backups” against Montreal — Habs No. 2 Mike Condon got the win — has been sent down to AHL Binghamton to pave the way for Andrew Hammond‘s return from a groin injury, per the Sun.

The Hamburglar has been out since the preseason, but his return is earlier than expected.

He was originally supposed to miss the first two weeks, yet now sounds as though he’ll play one of Ottawa’s two games on an upcoming road trip through Columbus and Pittsburgh.

It’s going to be interesting to see if Hammond can replicate the success he had last season, when he came out of nowhere to go 20-1-2 with a 1.79 GAA and .941 save percentage, and finish seventh in Vezina voting.