I feel that this organization has always had something to prove; having to show they were as good as anyone else in the league. But, suffering from inconsistant play, and
bad...awful coaching and managing, held the Blue Jackets back for years. Last year a statement was made when we finally got the playoff monkey off our backs. Their message: We're not going to let you push us around anymore.
By far the most successful season in club history, a number of team records were broken. One of most impressive feats, in my eyes was going undefeated against Colorado who we all know has a very distinct win/loss record against Columbus (8-22-2).
We have a coach who has been there before, in Coach Hitchcock, who lead Dallas to the 1999 title. Not to mention his 500+ career wins, winning post season record, divisional and conference championships, among other awards.
We have (in my opinion) the most underrated superstar in the league, in Rick Nash. Our captain. A man who won't roll over and die on us like the last one did. This is a guy who has backed up his verbal support for the city and the organization when he agreed to his 8 year extension. It's proof that he believes in where this organization is going and he wants to take them there. The man is a true class act - on and off the ice.
There is a supporting cast that can help lead this team to where they want to be. Guys like Umberger, Voracek, Huselius, Brassard, Vermette are going to be instrumental in this team's success. Our defense can be better, but the guys we have are going to step it up. Commodore, Hejda, Klesla and the rest of the Blueliners are going to have to be ready for anything. Plus with Mason at goaltender coming off a Rookie of the Year award, and more focused than ever, teams will have to take notice. Getting only a small taste of the postseason will make them want it more this year.
Time to hang with the big boys.
The pieces are there, mostly, and it's time to make the jump. My only question is, what will it take? What will it take to finally reach 2nd place in the division, or better yet, take the division crown from that other team up north? I know I'm not the only one who is tired of seeing them run away with it every year. What do you think the team needs to do to wrap up a top 4 seed, and get deeper into the playoffs?
In my opinion, a few things need to happen:
- Improved road play - Columbus has NEVER had a winning record on the road. Not once. Improvement here is a must. We can't enjoy the confines of Nationwide Arena all year long (unfortunately) so when we hit the road, we need to bring our "A" game.
- Having another big time scoring threat to work alongside Nash - Whether it be through free agency or someone on the roster stepping up huge, we need someone else who can post big points. Too bad Brassard was lost for the season after that December fight that hurt his shoulder. He will be a huge boost to the team if he can play the whole season.
- Eastern Conference dominance - Last year's success over the Eastern Conference was so critical for making the playoffs. If we can duplicate that play again, it will go a long way.
The additions of Pahlsson and Garon only make us better by adding experience, and ability. This season is already shaping up to be an even better one than the last. I have nothing but full confidence in GM Scott Howson to make any other necessary moves this offseason to help the Blue Jackets by the time the season starts.
Finally, all there is left to say is come October 3, the arena will be rocking, and Minnesota better be ready. They better bring everything they got because they're going to face off with a Blue Jackets team that no one has ever seen before.