Saturday, October 11, 2014

A Sterner Test

Today the Columbus Blue Jackets start the defense of their home turf in the 2014-15 NHL season against the New York Rangers.  This will be a more difficult test for this battered Blue Jackets squad than the plucky, energetic, but not quite ready for prime time Sabres.

This is a Rangers squad that, in general, we feel we can beat if we play our game.  But the main difference between this season and last is that the core of these Rangers came together as a team during the playoffs, and that is something that is not easily dismissed.  We will see today how much of that lingers, but a run to the Stanley Cup final should pay dividends for the Rangers this year.

The CBJ also have a very tight team.  There is little doubt of that, and they looked very cohesive in their season opener.  They will need to play that style of game against a more difficult opponent today.  A trend that started in Traverse City, in the development tournament hosted by the Redwings, and carried through the preseason is that the CBJ may be outshot early, and may fall behind.  But they have consistently shown an ability to start to wear on teams, and have shown some explosiveness in the third period.  They have shown an ability to play a systematically sound game with a variety of lineups.  We will get a real good idea of the early potential of Wennberg and Dano today as well.  I am looking forward to watching that with keen interest.

These are games the CBJ did not win consistently last year.  A weekend tilt against a powerful opponent before a full house.  It will be a sign of growth for this team if they can begin to win these games.  A Cup finalist is a good early measuring stick, but will not measure the full potential of our team, win or lose.  But a strong early start is built by winning this type of game.  It should be fun to watch!


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