As unenthused as I was at the beginning of last week, it proved to be a week of relative greatness for the Columbus Blue Jackets (12-15-3). The team managed to shut out both the Tampa Bay Lightning (17-10-2) and the Minnesota Wild (18-9-5). And while they had a tough 2-1 loss last night against the Pittsburgh Penguins (21-10-1), they played tough through out the entire game and it proved to be one of their strongest games of the season defensively.
The Blue Jackets continue to show that they can play competitively against teams with better records, but how will they perform against equal opponents? The Blue Jackets will have their chance to prove themselves tonight when they matchup against the New Jersey Devils (12-13-6). The Blue Jackets have struggled in games when their opponents have similar records; I believe this is because the team comes to play at the caliber of their opponent, not necessarily always at the best of their ability.
Tonight is an important game. It is about time that the Blue Jackets started a winning streak. And although they lost to the Penguins, the team is still on a relatively upward trend. Later this week the team will face off against the New York Rangers (15-15-1) and the St. Louis Blues (19-6-3). It is important that the team wins against the Devils and Rangers. The Blue Jackets have proven that they can play at the level of the best teams, now it is just important that they can also be competitive against the teams on their level.
So what needs to be done to accomplish these wins? Primarily, the games will rely on the defense. It is important that the Blue Jackets’ defense comes to each game ready for action. Furthermore, the team needs to come out aggressively from the beginning and gain the upper hand in the first period. If they can keep control of the puck and score when possible, they should be able to keep the pressure off their goalies. Winning the game will depend on how effective the team is when they control the puck.
It’s always frustrating to see a team that you know has talent lose. This week is the time for the Blue Jackets to bring in some more wins. They have already proven themselves, now is the time for them to hit their streak.
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