Upon first glancing at a list of teams in the NHL, one located in Columbus, Ohio might not initially be cause for much commotion. The Columbus Blue Jackets are a relatively new league franchise who have never made it to the playoffs. Last season, Columbus came about as close as it gets when the team tied points with the Minnesota Wild for the final spot in the Western Conference; because Minnesota held a better season record, the Blue Jackets were sent packing.
Perhaps the lingering taste of coming that devastatingly close to a postseason berth only to be let go is what has ignited Columbus’ offense in recent weeks as the playoffs looms closer. Since Veznia Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky took over the Blue Jackets’ net, the crease in Columbus has never been better tended, however scoring at opportune times has plagued the Blue Jackets this season.
But Columbus’ road to the playoffs continued Sunday evening as the Blue Jackets faced the New York Islanders in one of the team’s final games of the season. After losing a costly two points to the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday, Columbus needed the win to keep their postseason hopes a concrete reality.
And while at times this season the team has had to rely solely on Bobrovsky stopping the show in net, Columbus’ game against the Islanders proved that the team’s offense is finally stepping into a much-needed powerhouse role. The Blue Jackets bested New York 4-0, receiving scoring tallies from four different players: Boone Jenner, Jack Johnson, Mark Letestu and Ryan Murray. Even more significant in the win, three of the four goals came via power-play, another sign of a sparked offense.
This in no way downplays the stellar tending of Bobrovsky, especially in Sunday’s shutout. But a team cannot make it deep in the playoffs relying on their net keeper to bat away all pucks that past the defense, after all you only win games by scoring goals. And it seems the Blue Jackets have finally figured out they are more than capable of doing so against even the NHL’s toughest teams.