It would be tough to find too many teams that are jealous of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ October 2016 game schedule.
This month’s game lineup features seven games against teams who all had at least 93 points in the NHL standings last season. Six of those seven were also playoff teams, and four of the seven games will be played in their home arenas.
But, despite how tough the match-ups look on paper, the Blue Jackets have found a way to string together a two-game win streak in as many nights against the Chicago Blackhawks and the Dallas Stars, as they continue through their tough October.
Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky earned his first shutout of the season — also his first since November 2015 — with a 32-save performance en route to a 3-0 win against the Stars. However, head coach John Tortorella said the full team deserves recognition for tonight’s two points.
“You have to give the team, everybody, from [Bobrovsky] right on through, credit,” Tortorella said. “It was a team win tonight. From Bob right on out, everybody played. We used our bench all night long and I thought we had the right amount of patience/aggression throughout the game.”
Bobrovsky also said he was happy with his team’s performance.
“The guys did a hell of a job tonight,” Bobrovsky said. “They stepped up and played an even game in the second game of a back-to-back. We started really good and it was a great game.”
Blue Jackets forward Scott Hartnell, who scored the team’s second goal tonight and extended his point streak to three games (one goal, two assists), said he also thought the entire team was consistent all night.
“Everyone contributed and winning tonight is a great, great feeling,” Hartnell said.
He also added that even though the team did not start the year off the way they wanted to, they are seeing their hard work pay off.
“We didn’t start the season like we wanted, 0-2, but now we’re back to .500 and we’re right in the mix of things again,” Hartnell said. “There’s a swagger and a confidence. There are a lot of good things you can say about our team. All four lines, all three D pairs and our goalie. It’s a great atmosphere right now.”
However, Tortorella said the team should not be “too high on themselves” because there is still work to be done beyond winning two games in a row.
“This is the next lesson now: we win our first road game, feel good about it, but lets just keep it at a flat line here as far as preparation and how you handle yourself in the next two days,” Tortorella said. “You have to keep a flat line and don’t get too high. Don’t get too low when you lose and don’t get too high when you win. It’s a marathon. We have a tough trip here. Just stay with it here.”
Forward Josh Anderson, who scored the Blue Jackets’ first goal of the night, agreed with his coach, but said that the wins have instilled a level of positivity in the team’s locker room.
“We’re feeling better about our game right now and we’re trying to get pucks to the net and get more shots,” Anderson said. “Right now everyone is playing more of their game, and it’s always nice coming out on the road and getting the first win. But we have to continue on from here.”
So what has been the secret to the team’s success in the past two games compared to the first two?
“We feel more comfortable, we are coming together and we [have] each other’s back,” Bobrovsky said. “Good things are happening. It feels great, definitely.”
“Everyone is doing a great job. Everyone is pulling together. It’s fun hockey right now.”
The Blue Jackets will hit the beach on their day off in Los Angeles tomorrow, and will get back to work with practice on Monday morning ahead of Tuesday’s game against the Los Angeles Kings.