The Columbus Blue Jackets are known for slow starts to the season. In the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, they began 5-12-4. In 2013-14, they started 5-10. Another hole buried them last season, the pile on of injuries adding insult.
On the flip side, the Jackets have ended seasons streaking hot. Last season, they won 12 of their final 13. After their 5-12-4 start to the 2013 season, they finished the month of April 9-3.
As Columbus gears up for season No. 16 in franchise history, the Jackets hope to start the season hot for a change. Following a dismal showing against the Minnesota Wild in last Thursday’s preseason game, coach Todd Richards started most of his regulars — including his top-three forward lines and top-two defensive pairs — last Saturday. The result was a 4-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Though just preseason, it’s obvious Richards wants to do what he can to avoid another slow start to a season for a team whose fanbase is craving hockey beyond April. The opportunity is there for new players to mesh with the system and for line combinations to form some consistency early on.
From a conditioning standpoint, goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky changed his offseason routine. Instead of staying off the ice and resting, Bob played more hockey. He did so helping lead Russia to a silver medal at the World Championships over the summer. He also trained in Austria, led a goaltending camp in Siberia and was back in Columbus training earlier than usual, adding between five and seven pounds of muscle in the process.
Hampered by groin injuries the past two seasons, he hopes the increased playing time and training will aid in staying healthy. This means staying on the ice longer for the Jackets.