Columbus Blue Jackets 2013-14 Schedule: 6 Must-Watch Games You Can't Miss
The Jackets are ready to bring the same kind of sound play they displayed last season in their 8-2 final push for the eighth seed to 2013-14 and get off to a much better start.
2013 saw Columbus start 5-20. It's amazing that they were even in the conversation about the playoffs, let alone a tiebreaker from clinching a berth.
Columbus' core has gotten stronger this offseason with the free-agent acquisition of Nathan Horton, a healthy James Wisniewski and the graduation of first-round draft pick Ryan Murray.
With that in mind, here are six games no Jackets fan will want to miss.
Nov. 1 and Nov. 2: at Pittsburgh Penguins, vs. Pittsburgh Penguins, respectively
Games: Columbus Blue Jackets at Pittsburgh Penguins , 7 p.m. ET, Nov. 1
Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Pittsburgh Penguins, 7 p.m. ET, Nov. 2
2013 Season Series: —
A little less than three hours of travel separate these cities, and an early home-and-home series is sure to be the start of an intense new rivalry.
The Blue Jackets will likely head into this season viewed as the little brother in this matchup—and rightfully so. Being a team without a playoff victory in their history against a team that's won three Stanley Cups doesn't come without an uphill battle to earn respect. However, a team like the Jackets is built to upset the Pens.
Columbus took the victory in their only matchup in the preseason, 5-3. Rookie Boone Jenner made his presence felt, scoring two goals including the game-winner while playing on a line with veterans Brandon Dubinsky and Marian Gaborik.
If Jenner doesn't falter and find himself back in the AHL, he could be skating on the same ice as Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin in a little more than a month.
To avoid the hole they dug themselves last season with a slow start, early divisional games like these carry a lot of weight. Look for the Jackets to establish themselves as legitimate contenders in the Metropolitan Division early.
Nov. 7: Columbus Blue Jackets vs. New York Rangers
Game: Columbus Blue Jackets vs. New York Rangers, 7 p.m. ET, Nov. 7
2013 Season Series: —
If everyone is healthy, there will be nine players with previous experience playing for their now division foes.
It's also the first time Derick Brassard, Derek Dorsett, John Moore and Rick Nash will play in Columbus since being dealt.
Add the fact that former Blue Jackets head coach Scott Arniel is now an assistant with the Blue Jackets and we could write a book with an endless amount of storylines about this matchup.
When new Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault was behind the bench for the Vancouver Canucks last season, all three games against the Blue Jackets went to a shootout, with Vancouver taking two of three.
The Blue Jackets will look to defeat its plethora of former players and head coach and let New York know who's gotten the best of their blockbuster deals.
This has the makings of a great divisional rivalry, and it'll all start Nov. 7.
Jan. 21, 2014: Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Los Angeles Kings
Game: Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Los Angeles Kings, 7 p.m. ET, Jan. 21, 2014
2013 Season Series: 0-3-0
The Jeff Carter debacle in Columbus and Jack Johnson's ties to L.A. may not be the storyline here anymore, but now it's how close and competitive the games are between these two teams.
The Kings got the best of the Jackets in each game last season, and the teams split the season series the year before.
Now that they'll only see each other two times a year, what's lost in a Western Conference rivalry will intensify with how infrequent these games will occur.
Mike Richards' and Brandon Dubinsky's disdain for each other is sure to bring an added element to the matchup, too. The two renewed a personal hatred that began in the Atlantic Division in the first of three games against each other with a fight after a boarding call on Dubinsky. Richards and Carter got the last laugh, each scoring a goal en route to a 4-2 Kings win.
March 8, 2014: Columbus Blue Jackets at Nashville Predators
Game: Columbus Blue Jackets at Nashville Predators, 7 p.m. ET, March 8
2013 Season Series: 4-1-0
Nashville and Columbus have become new-age NHL rivals. The Predators have two more years of existence on the Blue Jackets, but both still have a bit of puppy fat.
The Preds have yet to make it past the second round of the playoffs, and the Jackets are still in search of a playoff victory.
Last season opened and closed with this matchup for Columbus, and even though the teams only meet two times a season now, the contempt is sure to remain.
Nashville may have not cashed in on the chance to make sure Columbus missed the playoffs last year, but a game in March at home will likely present another chance to hurt the Jackets' playoff chances.
March 15, 2014: Columbus Blue Jackets at Minnesota Wild
Game: Columbus Blue Jackets at Minnesota Wild, 8 p.m. ET, March 15, 2014
2013 Season Series: 1-2-0
To think, all it would've taken to put Minnesota out of the playoffs and Columbus in would've been one more of these games going to overtime.
In the preseason, Columbus carried the play in the first game of two against the Wild in a 3-1 win and lost in a shootout later in the exhibition season, 2-1.
When things count this season, the Blue Jackets will look to really own their chance at revenge. A 3-0 loss April 7 was one of only two losses the Jackets had in their final 10 games last year, a game that proved to be the difference between continuing on to the postseason.
Come March 14, 2014, this game could have the same type of implications for both teams. Viewers shouldn't expect anything less than a playoff atmosphere.