At the top of the Metropolitain Division the Columbus Blue Jackets have hushed all nay sayers and have cruised through the first 2 months of the season leaving many stunned around the league.
With salary cap problems still on the rise it has been a difficult start to the season in the head office for first year GM Murphy dealing with injuries and a few over paid players finding themselves near the botton of the depth chart he has managed to bring the cap pace down to a respectable amount and if they can stay away from injury trouble moving forward all with be good on the Cap front.
All of this success cannot be put on the shoulders of the GM though, consistency in a few areas of the game has been very vital to the Jackets in the first 2 months of the season and has helped put them near the top of the league:
1. Goaltending - Varlamov with a 11-6-2 record and a 2.46 GAA has been solid all year long but dealing with injuries has forced Kuemper (4-1-2, .937 sv%, 2.07 GAA) to step up in his absence and put on a show.
2. Nikita Kucherov - Third in the league with 34 points and t-7 in goals with 15 has been a bright spot all year long. Nothing else needs to be said.
3. Connor Murphy?? - With injuries on the back end all year Connor Murphy has found himself in a big role and has answered the bell. With 4 goals and adding 7 assists with a +17 he has been a gift on the blueline all year and has been awarded with more ice time.
With a record of 7-4-2 in the 13 games of October it was all about the tight battles that landed Columbus near the top of the league with 5 of the 7 wins coming by only 1 goal and not one of those games having scored more than 3 goals. As mentioned above the goaltending was key in the first 13 games of the year with a GFG at 2.30 only thanks to the top line of Kucherov-Steen-Rakell doing just enough to pull out the Ws.
Novemeber was a more of the same with a record of 8-2-2-1 in the 13 games played but wins came in a different way. Goals by the bunches after a slight change to the line up when Steen was put onto 2nd line with Nash and Armia and with Teravainen being bumped up with Kucherov and Rakell. Goals for has jumped to 4.15 as secondary scoring was added with the chemistry of Steen and Nash and the 1st line has done well with Kuch and Tuevo taking off at over a point per game pace. Also cannot forget about Rakell tied with Kucherov with 15 goals of his own.
As the title of the Article states - Consistency is Key, and if the Jackets can stay at the same pace all year on the backs of good goaltending and the MVP type season that Nikita Kucherov is having there is no reason they cannot be a solid contender in the tight Eastern Conference all year long.
Stay tuned for more on the Battle of the Metro.