One hundred points.
Say it with me, Columbus Blue Jackets fans. This team hit a milestone they’ve never hit before this weekend with their win over the New Jersey Devils. And they did it in a season where many predictions before the season started – minute included- left them for dead in October. No one saw this coming.
The Blue Jackets are in uncharted territory right now. They hit 100 points in the standings for the first time in franchise history. Sorry to keep writing that, but no matter how many times I have written it since yesterday afternoon, it still doesn’t feel real. They’ve already smashed the franchise record for points in a single season (which was 93, set during the 2013-14 season). They’re on pace to shatter Coach Tortorella’s personal record for points in a season (109, set during the 2011-12 season with the New York Rangers).
One. Hundred. Points.
The Blue Jackets, for the first time in their history, control their destiny for the President’s Trophy. They have a 72% chance, per PlayoffStatus, to finish in the top two of the division and host a home playoff series for the first time in franchise history.
They are doing this one year after finishing 27th in the league. The Blue Jackets weren’t supposed to be here for years.
There are a myriad of reasons we can point to for this sudden surge to prominence for the Blue Jackets. Some of these include:
The Resurgence of Sergei Bobrovsky: Bob has returned to Vezina form, and stayed healthy this season, and it has made all the difference. Bobrovsky currently boasts a league leading 39 wins, and that barely begins to scratch the surface of how good he has been. Sergei Bobrovsky has posted a 2.04 GAA thus far this season (best in the NHL), with a league leading .931 SV% and is third in the NHL in shutouts this season with 6 (behind Braden Holtby and Peter Budaj). Bobrovsky has been the team MVP thus far this season, and his stats back it up.
The Development of Alexander Wennberg: Wennberg has taken a massive step forward this season, finally blossoming into the number one center we all hoped he would be. Wennberg, in his age 22 season, has put up 54 points including an astounding 42 assists to lead the team in 18:32 of ice time per game this season, more than 3 minutes per game more than he has played in years past. Wennberg has been a key cog on the first line this season, centering Nick Foligno and Brandon Saad much of the year, as well as playing a key role on the first power play unit. The role that Wennberg’s development has played this season cannot be overstated.
Cam Atkinson’s Career Year: Cam Atkinson has been nothing short of amazing this season. He leads the team in goals and points, registering 33-27-60 in 71 games played this season. He has earned the full trust of Coach Tortorella, playing in every phase of the game and developing into one of the better penalty killers on the team (not to mention scoring 2 shorthanded goals this season). Atkinson has been perhaps the player who has benefitted most from Torts’ arrival in Columbus. Does anyone remember when he was a HEALTHY SCRATCH under Todd Richards? Atkinson has blossomed this season into a bona fide superstar in the league.
Seth Jones and Zach Werenski – The First Pairing of the Future: Jones and Werenski have been better this season than I could have ever hoped for, even in my wildest dreams. They are the first pair of defensemen to post 40 point seasons in the same year for the Blue Jackets in franchise history. They play in all phases of the game, shut opponents down on a nightly basis, and contribute on the offensive end. They’re so young, and they’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what they can become.
One hundred points. And the future is so incredibly bright.
The Blue Jackets continue their march into the franchise record books on Wednesday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs before heading to Washington to face the Capitals in a game with massive President’s Trophy implications.
One hundred points, with everything left to play for. There is no ceiling for what can happen this season.