Are the Blue Jackets the Best Team in the NHL?January 1, 2017
After winning 15 consecutive games and tying the second longest win streak in NHL, the Columbus Blue Jackets have climbed to the top of the league and are now the best team in hockey. After Saturday night’s game against the Minnesota Wild, who have also had an impressive win streak of their own (12 games), the Jackets pulled away with a 4-2 win.
The Columbus Blue Jackets are 26-5-4 through the first three months of the season and are continuing a 15 game win streak. The Blue Jackets are currently ranked 1st in the Metropolitan Division, 1st in the NHL standings, and 3rd in the NHL in Goals with 123, behind the Rangers’ (135) and the Penguins’ (133). Columbus also has a league leading fewest goals allowed thus far into the season with 73 and a goal difference of +50. The Jackets are 14-3-1 at home and 12-2-3 on the road.
The Blue Jackets are playing surprisingly well this season due to John Tortorella and how well he has coached them. Coming into the season, the expectations for how well Tortorella would coach the Jackets were low, due to USA’s poor outing in the World Cup of Hockey who he was the head coach for. Somehow he has managed to get through to this young team, and turn them into one of the most fierce teams in the NHL. Their power play is at a league best, 27.4% while their penalty kill is the 17th best at 81%. They have had only 103 power play opportunities this season which is the third lowest. If you put one of the lowest amount of opportunities with the best power play team in the league, that’s a lethal power play when you think about how few chances they have.
The Blue Jackets have a top 20 scoring winger in Cam Atkinson who has racked up 17 goals and 20 assists over 35 games. Columbus’ goaltending is also a main factor in why they’re atop of the league. Sergei Bobrovsky has played 31 games and has a league leading 24 wins. He’s lost only 5 in regulation while losing 2 in OT. He has a save percentage of .934 and a GAA (Goals Against Average) of 1.95. Although his backup, Curtis McElhinney has only played 5 games, 4 of which he started, he has won 2 and lost 2 in OT.
The Blue jackets don’t play again until January 3rd against the Edmonton Oilers in Columbus. The Oilers are fresh off a shootout loss against Vancouver and are looking to come out strong against the league’s hottest team. In an interview with the Oilers head coach Todd McLellan, he said his team was focused on getting the two points, also mentioning there was a little extra incentive to beat them. Edmonton lost their only other game to Columbus 3-1 at home which was part of their current win streak. The Oilers would love to split the season series one a piece as well as put their streak to an end. This game will take place Tuesday January 3rd at 7:00 PM Eastern Time and is without a doubt a can’t miss game between two of the best teams in the league.
Written by Chase Barnhart