Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Blue Jackets Benefit From a Eastern Move

They say that sometimes a change of scenery is a great thing to help your mental health and well let's just say that a change of scenery for the Columbus Blue Jackets has done wonders for the franchise.  This is the first year for the Blue Jackets in the Eastern Conference, after spending their entire NHL life in the Western Conference.  It was Columbus and Detroit that moved into the Eastern Conference, but I would argue that Columbus has benefited more from the conference swap.  Columbus made the playoffs this year for only the second time and they have won the franchise's first road and home playoffs games.

Some of the keys to the success that the Blue Jackets have had this season, especially in the playoffs start with the fact that they don't have to see the Blues and the Blackhawks nearly as much.  Let's face it, it is well documented the struggles that the Blue Jackets are currently having with the 2013 Stanley Cup Champions.  The Blue Jackets have dropped 13 in a row to the Blackhawks and 9 in a row at home, in Nationwide Arena aka United Center Jr.  Not to be out done, the Blue Jackets have also had a tough time with the St. Louis Blues.  The Blues a very physical team, with loads of scoring, always a brutal game.

Thus it's a good thing that the Jackets have not had to see much of the Blackhawks and the Blues because overall the West has been much tougher then the East.  The West finished with 4 teams over 110 points and the East only had 1.  The West had 6 teams finish with over 100 points and the East had 4.  The Edmonton Oilers finished dead last in the West with 67 points and Buffalo Sabres finished dead last in the East with only 52 points.  That is a 15 point difference or 7.5 games, since the winning team is given 2 points for a win.  Let's face it, in 2013-14, the West was much better overall than the East.

Another key to the Blue Jacket's success this year, is the key players that they have traded for from the New York Rangers.  Artem Anisimov, Brandon Dubinsky, and even Marian Gaborik though he is not with the team anymore; these guys experience and knowledge of teams in the Eastern Conference, I believe have given the Jackets a much needed boost this year.  Without the leadership of Dubinsky and the goal scoring of Anisimov, there is no way that the Jackets are in their current position.  The Blue Jacket's front office brass should be applauded for the way these players were brought in, and giving up very little in return.

The Blue Jacket's familiarity with Eastern Conference teams does not end there, it continues with their goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.  Bobrovsky was acquired in a trade with the Philadelphia Flyers for Steve Mason.  Mason had an excellent first season with the Jackets but failed to follow it up.  A change of scenery for both Bobrovsky and Mason has proven to do wonders for both players.  Last year, Bobrovsky won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's best goal, and has followed up this season in stellar fashion.  Mason, not be out done this year is leading the Flyers into the playoffs.  Familiarity that a goalie can have with shooters can do wonders in terms of stopping shots and knowing the tendencies of goal scorers.

Talking about goal scorers, Columbus is seeing the emergence of a great goal scorer in front of their eyes in Ryan Johansen.  Johansen finished the season with 33 goals, which is good for 11th in the NHL.  Columbus has not seen this kind of scoring from one player since the departure of Rick Nash.  Johansen led the team with 63 points in the regular season, he also has 5 game winning goals.  This has been Johansen's first full year with the team, he played all 82 games, and he has really come alive.  He is just another one of the young players on this Columbus team, that will be a thorn in the side of the Eastern Conference for years to come.

So to sum it all up, the Blue Jackets have greatly benefited this season from players that have much familiarity with the Eastern Conference.  Again, like I said before Davidson and the Blue Jackets front office should be applauded for the job that they have done.  They knew that they were going to the Eastern Conference, so what did they do, they went out and got some quality players from the Eastern Conference to build this franchise around.  Aided by a weaker Eastern Conference, the Columbus Blue Jackets have finally announced their arrival on the NHL scene.  This is a young team with much talent, the Eastern Conference will fear this team for many years to come.  FIRE THE CANNON!

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