Since my last post, the Blue Jackets have played past the halfway point of the season and have started to turn the corner a little. The team on the ice had 2 major additions with Sergei Bobrovsky and Nathan Horton returning to the lineup. For “Bob”, it was a welcome return at a time when the goalie situation was starting to get a little unstable with journeyman Curtis McElhinney assuming the starting role. He did an admirable job between the pipes, but it’s not possible to replace the reigning Vezina Trophy winner. Bobrovsky made his return on January 6 at Madison Square Garden and did it in glorious fashion. The CBJ are 4-0 since his return, with 3 of those victories belonging to Bob. He’s added levity to the locker room that was missed in the month he was out with an injury to his groin.
Nathan Horton made his debut with the Blue Jackets on January 2 and did so with a bit of flair. He scored the eventual game winner off a rebound while on the power play to register his first goal in the Union Blue. His impact on the game is immediate and there’s a respect earned in the locker room for a guy that’s been to 2 Stanley Cup Finals and was a key contributor in the Stanley Cup Championship for the Bruins in 2011. It was said in the offseason that Bobrovsky and Horton are 2 centerpieces the franchise is looking to build around, and they haven’t disappointed.
The Blue Jackets have 35 games remaining and no team wants to peak in January. Historically, the month of January has not been kind to the CBJ. They’ve had many years in the past that their season died once the month of January started. Thus far through January 14, the Jackets are 5-1 and play 6 of 8 at Nationwide this month. The fan base is starting to get behind the team a little more because of their improved play. The Nationwide Arena crowd was a large part of the Carolina game and certainly gave the team a jump in Monday’s game against Tampa Bay. The Jackets are starting to hit their stride and developing an identity much like they did during the 2nd half of last season. The next 8 games might determine the fate of the team and if they keep surging there is no reason to believe they can’t sneak into the playoffs for only the 2nd time in club history. I can only hope that City of Columbus will join the battle for the final 3 months of the regular season as well.