Don’t look now, but the Columbus Blue Jackets are rolling.
Last night, on the 1,000th game of the franchise’s history, the Jackets coasted to a 5-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. The win was the team’s eighth in a row, in which they fell behind 2-1, then never looked back, scoring four unanswered goals. Reigning Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky continued his stellar play of late, stopping 26 of 28 shots. The performance was so dominant that the fans got to troll a former Blue Jacket, chanting “We Want Mason” throughout the night, poking a little fun at Flyers goalie Steve Mason.
The fans didn’t get their wish, as Mason watched fellow netminder Ray Emery get shelled. However, the Columbus faithful hardly have anything to complain about lately.
The Jackets have gone from just outside of the playoff picture to seventh place in the Eastern Conference. They’re a couple miles behind first place Pittsburgh Penguins, but they’re also only three points away from home-ice advantage. Keep that in mind when considering the team has dealt with significant injuries all season long, from Bobrovsky to sniper Marian Gaborik, as well as top offseason acquisition Nathan Horton. And yet, here they are, sitting in playoff position and finding ways to win on a consistent basis.
Horton’s return from offseason shoulder surgery has been a huge boost for the Jackets, as he’s notched four goals and three assists in ten games played. However, Columbus is also getting huge contributions all around, from youngsters like Ryan Johansen and Ryan Murray to vets like RJ Umberger and Jack Johnson. The latter has specifically been on a roll since being snubbed from the US Olympic roster.
While all of this is great for Columbus, you won’t find a player on the roster who is content with just having a great January. This is definitely something you want to here if you’re a fan, as this team is believing it can do more than just eek out an eight seed. If you ask Horton, the team is focused solely on getting to the playoffs and staying as long as possible.
“We’re on a roll, but we’re not where we want to be,” Horton said. “We want to get back in the playoffs and stay there. We needed a winning streak; now we need to keep the thing going.”