The Columbus Blue Jackets might have ended their pre-Olympic road trip tonight with a 3-2 loss at the hands of the San Jose Sharks, but fortunately for those looking at where this team might pick up again in March, the only part of their game that was actually negative was that final score.
Despite being outworked in some areas (and never overcoming San Jose’s extreme ability to score early on), Columbus continued to show their resurgence as a team after a rough start and just barely missing the playoffs in 2013.
Rookie Boone Jenner came up big again for the Jackets, scoring Columbus’ second goal of the night as the team was trailing 3-1 with less than 15 minutes left. The 20-year old London, Ontario native is a player many predict will create quite the name for himself in this league if he stays on his current track; the goal was his 10th of the season. Some might even say it was his 11th considering his controversially waved-off goal due to a high stick in the first period.
Whereas most of the team’s victories last year were based solely on netminder Sergei Bobrovsky‘s ability to come up big night after night, their structure and results reflect that of a team built for battle this year. And yes, “battle” is an official word courtesy of the Blue Jackets’ excellently-run Twitter account.
With roster names such as James Wisniewski, Cam Atkinson, Matt Calvert and Jack Johnson all finding names for themselves with the long-awaited arrival from injury of Nathan Horton, one might even say the sudden push from this team came as soon as Horton returned to the ice. They are, after all, 8-1-0 when Horton scores a point in the game.
But great team play aside, Bobrovsky still deserves much credit for the new outlook on this season. After recovery from a brief injury, the goalie returned to the ice in top form, leaving that previously mentioned Twitter handle searching for new memes and gifs across the internet to come up with different ways of saying “great save BOBROVSKY” without it getting repetitive. Because yes, the great saves happen that often.
Bobrovsky showed again why he reigns as the current Vezina Trophy winner by making 44 saves in a 47-shot game. He didn’t gain the win, but he kept his team in the game up to the dying seconds.
Columbus may still be going into the season break on a string of two losses, but the past is the unchanging past. The future of this team, however, is yet to be determined. If they keep improving on the game they have set up for themselves in this last month, that future looks to be pretty bright.