Just like that the Columbus Blue Jackets are winning hockey games again. The team started the season in solid shape, and then youth proved to be a downfall of sorts. Having a rough December and January the Blue Jackets looked like a team that was rebuilding. When the All Star break came around it was almost like the team and coaching hit the reset button. A 7-1 record in February has given hope again.
Two things jump out in the Blue Jackets turnaround, special teams play and the defensive unit (blue line.) Ranking 24th on the power play does not seem all the great. In actuality it is not. However, the power play has improved as it is creating better scoring chances by getting the puck down low.
The Blue Jackets penalty kill ranks 12th. That is pretty good. This unit has been lights out in wins against the Maple Leafs and Florida Panthers. In fact the penalty kill allowed zero shots on goal vs Florida.
Speaking of the Columbus Blue Jackets blue line, they seem to have benefited most from the All Star break. The very young defensive crop has had a rough time cutting it’s teeth. That is until after the All Star weekend. Now the unit is rotating to the spot of the puck and forming a wall in front of the Blue Jacket goalies.
For a team that is supposed to be in a rebuild/reload the Blue Jackets are in position to make one of the NHL’s wild card spots for the playoffs. Yes, there is still a lot of hockey to play. The fact they even in this position is promising.
The Blue Jackets are sure to at the very least have one lottery draft pick from the Chicago Blackhawks as part of the Seth Jones trade. If they miss the playoffs there is a chance (all be it slim) the Blue Jackets could have two lottery draft picks.
All and all Brad Larsen has done a very good, very solid job with the team who is fun to watch.