|Simon Kenton runs a Shawnee Gauntlet - by Steve White|
Regardless of their record to date, the next three weeks were always going to tell us a lot about the team we have. If they can consistently play the kind of hockey they have been playing, and garner a good many of the points laying out there, they will have done so under trying conditions, and against very good talent. For Christmas, we should get a pretty good assessment of how good of a team we really have.
I'll get into the Ohio History part of the whole thing later on. For now, all we need to know is that the gauntlet starts on the second to last day of November. Just how long the gauntlet is remains to be seen.
The Blue Jackets play the following games in early December (beginning with the last game of November)
Vancouver - Away - Stanley Cup finalist -Western Conference Champions
Calgary - Away
Edmonton - Away - More number 1 picks than you can shake a stick at
Montreal - Away - the Habs - First Round of playoffs
Nashville - Home - Darth Vader - Second Round of playoffs
Boston - Home - Stanley Cup Champs - Eastern Conference Champions
Vancouver - Home - Stanley Cup finalist - Western Conference Champions
Los Angeles - Home - First Round of playoffs
Tampa Bay - Home - Eastern Conference Finalist
St. Louis - Away - Hitch's team
Any way you look at it, this has been the toughest run of the season. How the team fares in this stretch of games will have a pretty big impact on the long term look of this hockey club. If we wilt in the face of very stiff competition, there is going to be a very strong argument for blowing the whole thing up.
If, on the other hand, the team continues to play the consistent, competitive hockey we have seen recently, they ought to do reasonably well during this stretch. This would mean that we were at least arguably something near to being the hockey team we thought we had on paper in August.
The team heads west to start running the gauntlet. The seem to have their heads down, taking one game at a time. Consistent competitive hockey that garners the majority of the points in this VERY difficult stretch will tell us that we have a team core that is worth building around. We will know the score by Christmas.
Santy Claus, PLEASE give me a competitive hockey club for Christmas.
The Dark Blue Jacket would like to thank Artist Steve White for permission to use the image of his print "Simon Kenton - Running the Gauntlet". Please consider visiting Steve's web site at www.stevewhiteart.com
An Ohio History note - Simon Kenton was a frontiersman from Virginia who explored and helped settle much of Kentucky and Ohio. Ironically, there was a Shawnee Indian character named Blue Jacket who was a contemporary of Kenton. The hockey team, however, is called after the Union Soldiers of the Civil War.