It is the crucial time of the season where teams begin to solidify themselves from the pack, and the Blue Jackets are doing just that. But just how far can Columbus go?
The Blue Jackets are currently on a 10-game winning streak, and in that time frame, they have beaten playoff-bound teams such as Boston, Vegas, Colorado, San Jose and Florida. At the beginning of the month, the Blue Jackets were considered to be a bubble team, but now with seven games remaining, they rank third in the Metropolitan Division and are very much in play for the division title.
High level of play
Since March 4, no team has been able to compete with the Blue Jackets. The boys in blue have by far been the best team in the NHL during this winning streak. On this run, they have the most goals for in the NHL with 42 while allowing just 22.
The most impressive part about all of this is that they are doing it at even strength. A lot of times, winning streaks are fueled by good power plays and red-hot goaltending, but the Blue Jackets are genuinely just beating other teams at their best. Of their 42 goals on this run, 36 of them have come at even strength, and they even have a short-handed goal as well.
Columbus is going in night in and night out and are beating teams at their best on the offensive end. But the party doesn’t stop there for the Jackets. Head coach John Tortorella has his team playing very sound defensively down the stretch.
Through these 10 games, Columbus leads the NHL in blocked shots and rank third in takeaways. They are doing a fantastic job of turning solid defense into offense, and in turn, it has led to the miraculous run. But this couldn’t happen without a little star power.
Before this streak began, Artemi Panarin had just 53 points on the season. Fast forward a few weeks, and now he sits at 69 points. Panarin has scored in nine of the 10 games on this winning streak for Columbus, including four multipoint games.
Panarin has been the fuel to the offensive fire at even strength. His seven even-strength goals since March 4 rank first in the NHL, and his nine assists have him tied for seventh in the NHL.
Panarin is averaging 1.6 points per game on this run. If he continues playing at this level, he is likely to topple his career high in points. After spending his first two seasons in Chicago, Panarin has thrived in Columbus. Every Blue Jackets fan will be hoping for it to continue.
Bobrovsky will be the ultimate decider in just how far this Blue Jackets team will go. He has been the definition of excellence in net on this run for Columbus. He is 7-0-0 with a .940 save percentage and a 1.86 goals against average.
At home, Bobrovsky has been world class. He is sporting a 4-0-0 record along with a .959 save percentage and a 1.25 goals against average. If he can play anywhere close to these levels in the playoffs, the Blue Jackets have an excellent chance at making a run.
How far can Columbus go?
Columbus has all the tools to make an intense run in the postseason. They have gotten significant contributions from Sergei Bobrovsky and Artemi Panarin recently, and the rest of the team is on fire offensively. Time will tell whether or not this surge in play continues in the postseason, but there is no telling why it won’t.
The Blue Jackets are asserting themselves as one of the top teams in the NHL, but Columbus will just have to keep playing their game in order to win. As long as they do not commit foolish turnovers and penalties, they will have a very good chance.
They have proven they can win, but now they need to do it in the playoffs. After a disappointing end to last season, the Blue Jackets are hungry for postseason hockey.
Featured image by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images
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