For the first time in a long time, I went into a Blue Jackets game unworried. So often this season we have not known which team is going to show up; the Columbus team that dominates the entire game or the other team that only disappoints. Last night I just had this feeling they were going to show up and break the “win one / lose one” streak of inconsistency.
With last year’s Vezina winner sidelined with an injury, the offense still trying to find its footing, and some key team members still on the IR, I would not be surprised if some fans were hitting the panic button coming into the game against Minnesota. However, everything we heard from the team this week showed that this team was ready to face the adversity head on and not use it as an excuse to continue the mediocrity.
Instead of wallowing in the loss of Bobrovsky, GM Jarmo Kekalainen exuded confidence in new starting goaltender Curtis McElhinney. Coach Todd Richards made sure the practices in the break between the Tampa Bay game and last night’s game against the Wild were fast paced and difficult. This wasn’t a team rallying around a backup goaltender. It was a team refusing to let hardship and a tough break on the injury front negatively define the next 4-5 weeks of their season.
The Columbus Blue Jackets that took the ice last night against the Wild were not going to allow the streak to continue, but I honestly do not think that it was on their minds. They were just out to play their game and win. The team that showed up last night against the Wild was the real Columbus Blue Jackets.
I really wish I could have made it down to Nationwide Arena last night, but the winter storm scuttled my plans and I instead took in the game with friends back in Cleveland. It was a pretty awesome site to see all of the big screens at Quaker Steak with the Blue Jackets on and the Cleveland Cavaliers forced to sit at the kids table on the small screens. We celebrated every goal and cheered for the team, even if it wasn’t a packed house of hockey fans. Just like the Jackets, we took an unfortunate situation and made the best of it with a good time with friends, good food, and an awesome hockey game.
All of this has me pumped for Monday’s game against Pittsburgh. Bring on the Pens baby, because the Jackets are ready!