Blue Jackets For Real; Conference On Notice
November 9, 2009 by Big Tony
After 16 games the Columbus Blue Jackets are 9-5-2 yielding 20 points which is tops in the Central Division. Hopefully this good start shows all of the doubters that Columbus is a good team and that last year was no fluke. Many believed they overachieved mainly because of the unbelievable play of Steve Mason who put up extraordinary numbers. While it’s true that Mason stole a lot of games for the Jackets, thus far this year his numbers have been average at best. Mason certainly has been solid but not spectacular and as a result Rick Nash and company have needed to step up and they have done just that. Nash’s numbers have been stellar (22 pts from 11 goals and 11 assists) but the rest of the team has been underwhelming in comparison in terms of individual numbers. Nevertheless the numbers of the next five scorers on the team points list are pretty good for as a group the five (Vermette, Voracek, Chimera, Umberger, and Brassard) have a combined 54 points. Those numbers are so impressive because it means it’s not just one line putting up all of the numbers which doesn’t allow a team to focus on stopping one line. That also allows guys to have an off night (perhaps aside from Nash) and not have it hurt the team too much because others can pick up the slack.
Although their record is good and the scoring numbers are solid the Blue Jackets are going to have to get Steve Mason to step up his game just a bit. As they stand right now the Columbus is good enough to make the playoffs by a comfortable margin, but if Mason doesn’t rise to another level come playoff time it’s unlikely that Columbus will see past round one. The burden is not solely on Mason because there are five other players who need to play defense in front of him, especially when it comes to penalty killing. There is plenty of time left in the season for the Jackets to improve as a team, should that happen despite how good the Western Conference is everyone should be on notice that Columbus is for real.