On This Date
It was an unprecedented run for the franchise, which included records for the longest winning streak in club history (one shy of the Penguins all-time NHL mark of 17) and team-record 18-consecutive games with a point (17-0-1). They also set a club mark for consecutive road games with a point (10-0-1), Nov. 20, (which began at a game I happened to be at against the Capitals in D.C.), and they had had the longest home and road winning streaks (8).
The three main Blue Jackets to hit the scoresheet during the streak were Cam Atkinson (10 goals 8 assists 18 points), Brandon Saad (8-8-16), and Sam Gagner (7-9-16).
The run, which started Nov. 29 against the Lightning in a 5-1 contest, saw Columbus catapult from ninth overall in the standings, to first place overall. The Jackets defeated 14 different teams over a span of 36 days, outscoring opponents 62-27. Sergei Bobrovsky won 14-straight games, the second-longest goalie win streak in NHL history (Bruins’ Gilles Gilbert won 17 in 1975-76).
Better Than Bob?
Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky reached another height. With the 2-1 win over the Dallas Stars, Bob picked up win No. 200 in his career. If you remember, I predicted he would hit the milestone by Christmas. Oops.
You likely heard former Blue Jacket James Wisniewski is headed to Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea for the Winter Games Feb. 9-25. He will represent the United States in Men's Hockey.
Wisniewski enjoyed parts of four seasons in Columbus, playing the most games of his career with Columbus, and scoring the most points (209 games, 26 goals, 95 assists 121 points) than with any of his other clubs (Blackhawks 2005-06, 2008-09, Ducks 2008-09, 14-15, Islanders 2010-11, Canadiens 2010-11, Hurricanes 2015-16). All total, he enjoyed 14 seasons at the NHL level.
Now at the age of 33, and playing in Germany for EC Kassel Huskies in the DEL2 league, Wiz will get a taste of his first U.S. Olympic games. He previously represented the U.S. in the World U18 Championships in Trnava 2002 and the World Junior Championships in Helsinki in 2004, taking home the gold twice.
Want to thank everyone for the support and I couldn’t have done this without my families support and the dedication and perseverance I gave to achieve this unimaginable dream of representing this great country!! #TeamUSA #OlympicGold— James Wisniewski (@jameswisniewski) January 2, 2018
A Look Ahead
So far in 2018, the Blue Jackets are 1-1. Oliver Bjorkstrand has both goals for the Jackets in the last three games. A simpler style of play has made an appearance (outshot opponents 60-54), moving the puck, shuffling the lines, but the same stagnant power play remains.
Interesting note: Minus Zach Werenski for four games (Dec. 20-27), the Jackets were 25.0 percent with the man-advantage (3-for-12). Seth Jones (future captain?) had five points (1 G, 2 A on the PP) over that span, and has just two assists since.
I’m not saying, but I’m just saying. Take small samples for what they are, outliers show up among the extremes.
They’ll try to solve James Reimer and the Panthers Sunday evening during a quick stop at home, before making a quick jaunt to Toronto to face the Maple Leafs, and back to Upstate New York to face the Buffalo Sabres. Then it’s back home Jan. 12 to face the Canucks. Their upcoming back-to-backs (Jan. 7-8 and 11-12) are their 10th and 11th of the 2017-18 campaign, with six remaining.
The Panthers had won five-straight, before losing 5-1 to the Minnesota Wild this past Tuesday and being postponed due to snow last night in Boston. They will face the Red Wings in Detroit tonight, before their date with Columbus Sunday.
Roberto Luongo is still sidelined since his Dec.4, a lower-body injury sustained against the Islanders. Reimer has played every game since then (7-4-1, 933 S%, 2.33 GAA, two shutouts). You will remember they beat the Panthers in their lone meeting to date, 7-3 in Miami, scoring on both Antti Niemi and Reimer. They netted three power-play points on five opportunities.
Full preview to come in the coming days.
I’ll Leave You With This
And yes, a lot can happen. Yes, the trends need to change. (Columbus needs to tread water for the rest of the month, and then the return of Atkinson, Alexander Wennberg, and Brandon Dubinsky beckon. Ryan Murray should return before any of them (15-7-1 with Murray, 8-8-2 since).
I know. You can’t pin your hopes on players who are injured. (I’m just saying, the returns should help).
Right now, the Blue Jackets would make the playoffs, and the Penguins would miss.