For Columbus Blue Jackets fans, the best possible scenario is folding out right in front of our faces, and it is happening at the perfect time. With a shootout win last night in Buffalo, the Jackets extended their winning streak to 6, which ties the franchise record that was set in the 2005-2006 season.
The recent string of success that has been found by the Blue Jackets is very reminiscent of last season, when Columbus went 19-5-5 to finish out the season with a playoff run, only to come up 1-point shy of a playoff spot.
#CBJ were 24-17-7 in 48-game 2013 season, missed the playoffs in a tie-breaker. They are 24-20-4 this season.
— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) January 19, 2014
Several key factors have contributed to this success. Let’s cover the top 4:
Mark Letestu has finally found his groove, with 4 goals and 2 assists in the last 5 games. The first half of the season was tough for Letestu, who just couldn’t seem to be able to find the net.
- Needless to say, the outstanding play by goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky has also played a pivotal role since returning from an injury that kept him off the ice for a month. Backup Curtis McElhinney did an excellent job in his absence, but since returning to the starting position, Bobrovsky is 5-0-0.
Ryan Johansen has been playing so well, that the national media is starting to take notice, earning regular praise on the NHL Network and Fox Sports 1. In his professional career, this is far and away the best season that he has had, and it is paying dividends for the Blue Jackets.
- Two words: POWER PLAY. In January, the Blue Jackets are 8 for 25 (30.4%) on the power play. 5 of those 8 have come in the last 5 games. Both the power play and the penalty kill of the Jackets have greatly improved in recent games, and is a huge factor to their success.
The Blue Jackets have been wallowing in the lower end of the playoff standings all season, but after (so far) going 7-1 in January, they have moved up to 4th place in the Metropolitan Division and 8th overall in the Eastern Division.
From here on out, there are no more excuses. Even with the lingering injuries of Marian Gaborik, Blake Comeau and Jared Boll, they have shown that they have the depth and the talent to overcome obstacles and get wins. The foot is on the gas pedal and there is no letting up.
The next mountain to climb is the 19-day Olympic break, and there are only 10 games left before that happens. Could this be a needed break for a team that has been so hot, or will it completely take the wind out of the proverbial sails? Only time will tell.