And they're a fickle and contemptible lot

It's OK by me if you're not sold on the existence of the hockey gods. I mean, there's no real proof such beings are a thing. (So we're clear, I'm not talking about the Howes, Orrs, Richards and Haseks of the hockey world. Those all-time greats clearly do or did exist, and whether you consider them the sport's deities or royalty or GOATs is up to you.)

But what other way to make sense of the history of the Columbus Blue Jackets — a franchise that hadn't won a playoff round until last season, and did so in stunning fashion, only to be dispatched in the second round?

But enough about the past. The hockey gods' capriciousness is evident throughout the current season, as well, and the story of the season is how the club has battled to keep itself in contention for a playoff spot despite these detestable beings' best efforts.

The Hockey Gods: We'll make a bunch of your best players skip town in the offseason.

Columbus Blue Jackets: It took a while, figuring out how to succeed with this new-look lineup, but after about 20 games, we're rolling.

THG: How about we have a bunch of your better players get injured?

CBJ: We feel like we've built a pretty good organization, and lookie here, our minor-league call-ups are holding their own and, in some cases, giving us better results than our top players.

THG: Your goalie, Korpisalo? I know you weren't sure what you had in him, but he's really coming on. Let's have him get injured, too. Then you'll have to rely on the first-year NHL-er who's proven to be mercurial at best and unreliable at worst to start the season.

CBJ: How about that Elvis kid, huh?

THG: Impressive, yes. But the schedule-makers aren't doing you any favors with this compressed string of games they have you playing. Don't try to tell us "Games IN Hand" doesn't matter.

CBJ: Yeah, we know we've played more games than most other teams at this point, but if we keep earning points, it'll be tough for teams to catch us from behind.

THG: We notice your Atkinson and your Bjorkstrand have returned to the lineup and given you a boost in the scoring department. Feels like maybe they're going to get hurt again.

CBJ: Sheesh! But with Elvis still playing well and us finding ways to score just enough goals, we think we'll be able to stay in the thick of things. Besides, we have the best defense pair in the league led by the world's best young defender.

THG: Seth Jones is going to miss the rest of the regular season.

CBJ: You've got to be kidding... Fine. Yeah, we're starting to show signs of the wear and tear. Yeah, we might not have enough good players left. But that's not going to stop us from scratching and clawing every last bit of quality we can from this season. And look here, while there have been about four or five games in the past few weeks where our fans have thought all was lost, we've managed to win a game or earn a point that keeps us in a playoff spot "if the season were to end now."

THG: The season doesn't end now.

CBJ: Eff off.