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The Blue Jackets Suddenly Have Nowhere to Go but Down

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - MAY 04: Sergei Bobrovsky #72 of the Columbus Blue Jackets reacts after Brad Marchand #63 of the Boston Bruins scored a goal during the third period of Game Five of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on May 04, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins defeat the Blue Jackets 4-3.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Columbus Blue Jackets v Boston Bruins - Game Five | Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

After shocking everyone and sweeping the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs en route to the franchise's first playoff win, the Columbus Blue Jackets find themselves in a rather unfortunate position.

Columbus lost stars Artemi Panarin, Sergei Bobrovsky and Matt Duchene in free agency, and despite the addition of Gustav Nyquist, they are in a position where all they can do is go down. Their roster may be decent, but it is in shambles compared to what it was just last season, especially at the goaltending position.

A goaltender is the most important position in hockey, and barring any outlandish breakout campaigns, the Blue Jackets will struggle in net this season. Joonas Korpisalo and Elvis Merzlikins are slated to be the one-two combo in net, a steep drop off from one of the NHL's best in Bobrovsky.

Korpisalo has a career 2.89 GAA and a .907 save percentage over the course of an up-and-down 90 game career. Merzlikins has never appeared in an NHL game, but the 25-year-old has impressed overseas, recording a 2.44 GAA and a .921 save percentage in the Swiss National League last year.

The Blue jackets are in trouble, as Nyquist will not fill the production void of Panarin and Duchene, while their goaltending situation remains fluid. The Jackets finished fifth in the Metro grabbing the last playoff spot last season, but with the Rangers, Devils and Flyers all improving, the Blue Jackets may be at the bottom of the Metro next season.