What We Learned: Columbus Blue Jackets Are Red Hot, But So Are Those Pesky Panthers

By Kyle Morrison on March 11, 2018 at 1:45 pm
The Blue Jackets take the ice for warm-ups.

USA Today – Aaron Doster


A perfect week – three wins in three games – has the Jackets feeling good, but there's still plenty of work to be done. Here's what we learned this week. 

The Jackets Are Hot, Folks

Are the Blue Jackets #ActuallyGood? Lately, the answer is an unequivocal yes.

Four wins in a row have given the club new life and reason for optimism. While the playoffs are still far from a guarantee, the way the team has performed lately makes it a lot easier to imagine the Jackets actually making it out of the first round.

The team went three-for-three this week, knocking off one damn good team (Vegas), one pretty good team (Colorado) and one kinda-bad team (Detroit).

The team’s stars are coming through, too. Seth Jones has been red-hot, with five points over his last two games – and the game-winning goal in both of those contests. He's emerging as a superstar for these Blue Jackets, with a 13-33-46 line in 69 games, clearing his previous career-high (42 points) with time to spare. 

Artemi Panarin and Pierre-Luc Dubois are playing their best hockey of the season, too. Some concerns over the second (or third? Who even knows with this team?) line were quickly quelled as Thomas Vanek, Alexander Wennberg and Boone Jenner absolutely dominated the Colorado Avalanche, and each player tallied another point the next night against Detroit.

Thursday’s game was special for that third line, though, as Vanek scored his first two goals as a Blue Jacket, and the line absolutely destroyed the Avalanche in terms of possession. When all three were on the ice together at even strength, they generated 16 shot attempts, giving up just one.

Still, Room For Improvement

Even the hottest teams have moments of weakness – hell, last year’s 16-game streak needed a once-in-a-career performance by Curtis McElhinney just to stay alive – but the Jackets can certainly tighten things up a bit.

Thursday’s game against Colorado saw the Jackets give up two goals in just 11 seconds – then take a two-goal lead and cough that up in the third period. The resilience is good. The fact that they put themselves in that position is not.

The next night against Detroit was a similar story. Up 3-1 going into the third, Andreas Athanasiou got the Red Wings within one late in the game, and Sergei Bobrovsky had to come up with a huge save on Darren Helm from point-blank range as the clock was about to expire.

Good win? Sure. Forgetting to cover a man in the low slot when the game was on the line? Not great.

Devils In Their Sights

For the last two weeks or so, the main worry for many Blue Jackets fans has been holding off the red-hot Florida Panthers, who are 8-0-1 in their last nine games. Those Cats are still clawing, but it’s the New Jersey Devils who are now firmly in the Blue Jackets’ sights.

New Jersey got a huge win last night, knocking off the also-hot Nashville Predators, but their play of late has not been very good. Taylor Hall has been incredible – Hart Trophy-worthy, even – but during his incredible 26-game point streak, the Devils went just 12-2-2. Before last night’s game, the Jackets actually leap-frogged the Devils by a point, too.

One team will get left out. Going by recent results, the Devils should be worried.

Follow 1st Ohio BatteryFacebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube