NHL Central Division: What's Up in Columbus?

Pardon My Bias Bleacher ReportContributor IIApril 1, 2017

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

For those of you who don’t know, Columbus has a hockey team.

For those of you who do, yes they are still there.

What you all should know is that Columbus is two months into the season and has a record that should be envied by most of the NHL; one that is also unheard of in the Eastern Conference.

Sadly (and strangely when you look at any map), Columbus is in the Western Conference with all the other good records.

Though often overlooked, and usually for good reason, the Columbus Blue Jackets are using the under-the-radar mindset to take the NHL by surprise.

The Blue Jackets have only gone to the playoffs once in their close to decade-long existence, only to be swept in four games by divisional superpower, Detroit. 

Their small history is not doing any favors for the team’s recognition, either. Specifically, a lack of identity.

The Jackets have gone from blue wasps, to U.S. Civil War characteristics by using gimmicks like a cannon that’s now on the front of their jerseys and their mascot—which looks more like a wheelchair-using mustachioed bong.

The Jackets’ brief tenure, in conjunction with their floundering years, has only produced one superstar, Rick Nash, who hasn’t been as awe inspiring the past few seasons.

All of this combines for very little fan interest in an area where college football reigns via THE Ohio State.

But this is a team that went 8-4-0 through November, and now possesses a 14-8-0 record, good for 28 points.

That puts Columbus at third in the Central Division and fifth in the west, behind Chicago by only two points with five games in hand.

So how is Columbus doing it?

Columbus’ offense has seemingly found life during November, yet also keeping with their solid defensive approach.

It also helps that backup goalie Mathieu Garon has been a complete wall going 4-1-0 this past month, with three of those wins being shutouts.

While it is understandable that head coach Scott Arniel wants to keep young Calder winner Steve Mason active, having Garon present has got to be tempting.

Also, it is at least a relief knowing the backup netminder has big game performances in his stock while their main guy continues to fight post-Calder mediocrity akin to Andrew Raycroft.

Continue Reading...