In a four-game west coast swing the CBJ netted 6 of a possible 8 points. Given the standings this season that is not nearly as impressive as in years past.
All three California games were marked with a slow start that thankfully, only resulted in one loss. Playing poorly and still getting a win? This sounds like a contender here, but lets not get too far ahead of ourselves as the Jackets have just begun to climb back into the playoff race.
Saturday night's game versus the Golden Knights was different than the other games on the trip. The VGK are at the top of the standings, not the bottom (like all the Cali teams), meaning a slow start may quickly doom them. Although limited in shots, the Jackets made them count in this one. Emil Bemstrom, recently back from injury, buried a one-time clapper for a power play goal in the firsts. The relentless forecheck from the CBJ potted the second goal, with PLD stealing the puck from Fleury and then tipping the shot past him moments later.
Wennberg finished off the scoring and the Knights with this quick, simple breakout play where he found himself with quite a bit of space to whip a wrister in.
Not to be overshadowed, Elvis got his first NHL shutout.
Team win if I've ever seen one. The forecheck is the key to the Jackets success and everyone knows it. For some reason teams have not figured out how to beat it recently. My guess is the talent on the backend allows guys to go in hard without the fear of opponents scoring on the rush the other direction. The strong goaltending over the last month+ has significantly impacted results as well.
Four of the next 5 games are on home ice leading up to the All Star break and mandatory 5 days off following. Boston comes to town tomorrow (1/14/20) followed by Carolina two days later (1/16/20), the Devils on Saturday (1/18/20) then off to meet the Rangers in New York on Sunday (1/19/20) and finish the month at NWA versus the Jets (1/22/20).
Nine consecutive off-days follow that Jets match up. There is concern that the momentum could subside, but there is also the benefit of rest for those who are injured. Jones gets the honor of participating in the All Star activities, while Korpi, the other CBJ selection, will be recovering from knee surgery. One would say that Zach got snubbed, but his scoring touch has really only shown up over the past two weeks. The snub would be that Letang was chosen over him when selecting replacement players.
Of note, the CBJ have only lost to one team in regulation since December 9 (Sharks, twice). Over that time they have an 11-2-4 (26 of 34 points) record in 17 games. Columbus is currently 4th in the WC standings, one point back of Florida for the last spot. In the division, they rank 6th and are 6 points away from the 3rd place NYI.