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Columbus Blue Jackets: A Look at the First 10 Games
The Columbus Blue Jackets opened their 12th season in the National Hockey League with high expectations after just missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the lockout shortened season of 2012-13.
The Jackets are now members of the Eastern Conference, along with Detroit, after the league realigned after the season and were put in the Metropolitan Division facing the likes of Pittsburgh, Washington, Philadelphia, the New York Rangers and New York Islanders.
In hockey, coaches and front office personnel like to break down a season into 10-game intervals. We will do the same, as we look back at the men who ‘Carry The Flag’ in their quest to make a name not only against the East but also to make their second visit in a quest for the Cup.
Columbus finished the first 10 games with 5-5-0 record, finishing with a three-game winning streak all at home against Vancouver, New Jersey and Toronto. The season started auspiciously as a sellout crowd saw the Calgary Flames score two goals in a 42 second span of the third period to beat the Jackets 4-3.
CBJ rebounded, however, with a pair of road wins at the Islanders and Buffalo. After a home loss to Stanley Cup Finalist Boston, the Jackets went out on a three-game road trip–losing them all at Detroit, Montreal and at Washington. The four-game losing streak matched their longest of a season ago. In addition, the loss to the Capitals on October 19th was possibily their worst game of the young season as they were totally dominated by the Caps.
The Jackets snapped the losing skid with a victory over the Canucks thanks to backup goalie Curtis McElhinney. Both teams were playing in the second of back-to-back tilts, and McElhinney shined making 35 saves to give CBJ their first home win of the season.
Inside The Numbers
The 5-5-0 start was their best start to a season since 2010-11 when they went 6-4-0.
At the start of the season many observers questioned the Jackets offense. In the first 10 games they scored just 27 goals with their season high coming against Toronto on October 25th with five. The power play was a major thorn in last season and at the start of 2013-14 it began at 20.5 percent (middle of the pack). One aspect of CBJ’s game that must improve is their penalty killing as through the first 10 games they were 22nd allowing 22 power play goals against.
Marian Gaborik has gotten off to a strong start, leading the team with 10 points (5G-5A) in nine games. For those who remember, when Gaborik was acquired at last season’s trade deadline from the Rangers he gave the struggling offense a boost with eight points (3G-5A) in 12 games with the Jackets.
Two players that have started strongly this season spent most of 2012-13 on the injured list. The first is James Wisniewski. The defenseman was troubled by ankle problems, however he has started to live up to the free agent contract he signed a couple of seasons ago with eight points (1G-7A).
The other player who had gotten off strongly is Brandon Dubinsky. One of the key players in the Rick Nash trade with the Rangers, Dubinsky spent most of last season in and out of the lineup with an assortment of ailments. This season he has come back strong with seven points (3G-4A) and is second on the team in hits with 27.
Sergei Bobrovsky has gotten off to a slow start going 4-5-0 with a 2.44 GAA and a 9.20 save percentage. For those who have forgotten, he got off to a slow start last season after coming over from the KHL and we remember what happened at the end of the campaign.
One of the nice stories of the first 10 games was the night rookie Boone Jenner had in Montreal. The second-round pick in the 2011 Entry Draft made the team during training camp. He got to show his scoring prowess against the Canadiens. With Gaborik a scratch, the offense needed a spark down 3-0 in the second period. It was Jenner, who scored 111 goals in his junior career with the Oshawa Generals (OHL), that got the Jackets back into the game with two goals. His second tally early in the third period tied the game 3-3 before the Habs scored the game winner with just 1:07 left in regulation en route to a 5-3 victory.
The Next 10
The next segment starts on Sunday at home against Anaheim, who has gotten off to a strong start in the Pacific Division. Next comes a home-and-home against Sidney Crosby and division leading Pittsburgh. The game on November 7th against the Broadway Blueshirts will be Nash’s first game in Nationwide Arena as a member of the opposition and should be a night to remember.
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