Mar 6, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets goalieCurtis McElhinney
(31) makes a save against Chicago Blackhawks left wingBrandon Bollig
(52) during the third period at the United Center. Chicago defeats Columbus 6-1. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
The Columbus Blue Jackets are now two years removed from being a Central Division opponent of the Chicago Blackhawks. The Jackets were never a team that brought out a ton of animosity in games against the Blackhawks, but that’s probably because Chicago hasn’t had a whole lot of trouble beating them recently. In two meetings last season, the Blackhawks took the first with a 6-1 win in Chicago, and the second with a 4-3 win in Columbus. Now that they are in different conferences, the teams will face twice this season in December and March.
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Columbus tied with the Detroit Red Wings in the Metropolitan Division with 93 points and earned the first Wild Card seed to finish their first regular season in the Eastern Conference. They faced the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round of the playoffs and lost in 6 games. It was a pretty impressive feat for a team that’s rebuilding and trying to make their mark in a new Conference and Division, but Blue Jackets management wasn’t satisfied.
The Blue Jackets made one of the biggest splashes this summer when they traded for Scott Hartnell from the Philadelphia Flyers. He brings leadership, experience, and an understanding of Eastern Conference teams. The Jackets still have center Artem Anisimov and forward Nathan Horton from trades over the past few summers. Horton struggled with injuries last season, and it looks like he’s going to start off this season on the same note. He is suffering from a back injury that may prolong or limit his start to the season.
The Jackets’ leading goal scorer, Ryan Johansen, is still unsigned for the upcoming season and talks seem to have come to a standstill. The team is ready to move on if they cannot reach an agreement soon.
With a few big trades and a glimmer of hope last season, Columbus looks like it’s heading in the right direction to build up their franchise. If they can resign Johansen and guarantee a healthy Horton, they should be able to take another step forward in the 2014-2015 season.
How do you think the Blue Jackets will do in the upcoming season?