On December 31, the Blue Jackets were 17-19-4 and were treading water to stay alive in the playoff hunt. In net for most of the month were two journeyman goalies who have been career backups in the NHL and minor league standouts. When Sergei Bobrovsky went out with a groin injury on December 3, the sentiment from the fan base was that the CBJ would be lucky to survive the month without Bob. Not only were there timely goals, but McElhinney and McKenna were good enough in net to propel the Jackets to a record of 7-5-1 while Bobrovsky was injured.
On a personal level, this is the most fun I’ve ever had watching this team play. They put together a franchise record 8 game winning streak even when they weren’t playing their best hockey at times. The players have completely bought into the system, but also seem to have a camaraderie that is very uncommon in professional sports. From the outside looking in, they all appear to genuinely enjoy being teammates and proud to represent the city.
On Monday night in Anaheim they again showed resolve and beat the best team in the league in their own barn. Bob was great once again and single-handedly kept the Jackets in the game in the 2nd period when it appeared they would crack. Good goalies carry the team on some nights, and the 2nd period was a perfect example of that. He stoned Andrew Cogliano at the doorstep on a 2 on 1 rush to thwart a prime scoring chance. That was just one of many in the 2nd period.
The Jackets sit in 3rd place in the Metropolitan division, but only 3 points separate them from 7th place. They have 2 more games on their current road trip before they go on the Olympic break until February 27. They play at Los Angeles on Thursday, before concluding their short west coast swing at San Jose on Friday night. These 2 arenas haven’t been kind to this franchise in the past, but with the resiliency that this team has and Bob returning back to form they very well could win both of those games.Photo Credit: bluejackets.nhl.com