It's been an up-and-down ride so far, but the Columbus Blue Jackets seem to be hitting their stride.
After hovering around a .500 record for the first few months of the season, the Blue Jackets had a November to remember, going 9-4-2 through 15 games.
Columbus has won eight of its last 12 games, and in the four games it lost during that time, only one of them was by more than one goal (an empty netter made it a two-goal loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Nov. 19).
What's the secret? Playing with confidence as a team that knows it's one of the best in the NHL. Defensemen Ryan Murray knows this first hand.
"We feel pretty good about ourselves. I think we feel confident going into games," said Murray after a team practice on Monday. "Everyone knows what their role is, everyone knows what their job is, and I think guys have really bought into that."
Murray, who is having a breakout season and more points already than he had each of the past two seasons individually (13 points in 26 games), also credits the forwards in front of him for setting the pace of the team's dominance of late.
"Our forwards do a heck of a job, they make it easy on us (defensemen). They go so hard in the corners; all four lines can bang that puck around down low," said Murray. "They make it hell on the other team sometimes trying to get out of their own zone, so when they're rolling like that, we're a tough team to beat."
The Blue Jackets have 90 goals through 26 games, good for eighth in the league in average goals per game (nearly 3.5). After a sputtering offense last season that was ranked 16th in the league in goals per game (roughly 2.95), this is a huge and necessary boost, and their battle for the crown of the Metropolitan Division is a reflection of it.
Columbus currently sits one point out of first place behind the Washington Capitals, with the same number of games played, while also holding the tiebreaker in hand. If the Blue Jackets' offense can continue its onslaught and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky can continue on his current rhythm, this team can make a serious claim to be at the top of the conference come April.
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