With a 37-30-6 record, this is shaping up to be one of the best seasons in the history of the Columbus Blue Jackets. That’s a pretty sad statement, even after acknowledging the fact that the franchise only debuted in 2000-01.
Maybe that’s why fan interest in the Blue Jackets remains an area that’s lacking, even as the on-ice product seems to be moving in the right direction. Despite bolstering the number of season ticket holders they have compared to the shortened campaign, the Blue Jackets’ average home attendance has actually dropped this season and ranks 29th in the league at 13,959, per ESPN.com.
Only the Phoenix Coyotes have done worse and both teams are well behind the Dallas Stars, which rank 28th with an average of 14,477 fans. TV viewership for the Blue Jackets is similarly down and ranks 29th in the NHL.
“We’ve still got work to do with some folks, and we’ve not shied away from that,” Blue Jackets’ president of hockey operations John Davidson told the Columbus Dispatch. “People have been disappointed by their hockey team here through the years, and so we have a lot to prove to those people.”
This isn’t an issue the Blue Jackets can hope to completely solve by the summer, but they can certainly take some important steps in the right direction.
They are in the thick of the battle for an Eastern Conference Wild Card spot and if they get to the first round, that might spark renewed interest and excitement in the franchise. That would be especially true if they manage to at least make things interesting in the first round after they got swept in their only postseason series to date.
That’s the underlining theme as they prepare for tonight’s game against Carolina. They aren’t just fighting for a postseason spot. They are competing to win over a market that wants to start seeing results.
Ryan Johansen played 309 games with the Columbus Blue Jackets before a blockbuster trade to Nashville last January.
On Sunday, he finally made his return back to Columbus as a member of the Predators. However, he did not receive any sort of tribute whatsoever from the team that originally selected him fourth overall in the 2010 draft, and that is something that apparently bothered him.
“I am a little disappointed they didn’t put anything on the Jumbotron and say ‘thank you’ or anything like that,” Johansen told the Columbus Post-Dispatch. “I think we all know who made that call, but whatever.”
While Johansen enjoyed some productive seasons with the Blue Jackets, his time in Columbus, particularly his final months, were dogged with contentious headlines about his contract negotiations with the club and then his working relationship with coach John Tortorella.
Johansen, now 24 years old, has nine goals and 40 points in 58 games this season for Nashville. Currently in the final year of his three-year, $12 million contract, he’s a restricted free agent at the end of this season.
Brent Burns turned in a dominating performance. But Brad Marchand had the last laugh.
Marchand scored his 25th goal of the season and, more importantly, the overtime winner for the Boston Bruins as they defeated the San Jose Sharks 2-1 on Sunday.
That’s Boston’s fourth consecutive win since the controversial coaching change — which took another twist earlier in the week when the rival Montreal Canadiens fired Michel Therrien and hired Claude Julien. Off a defensive zone faceoff, Marchand bolted up the ice for the breakaway pass, on what appeared to be a set play, beating Martin Jones through the legs.
The Bruins move back into third in the Atlantic Division, and are now only four points back of the faltering Habs for first.
Meanwhile, the Sharks were unable to fully capitalize on another freakish Brent Burns outing. He’s been dubbed ‘an unstoppable force’ in recent posts at PHT — a defenseman possessing great size at six-foot-five-inches tall and 230 pounds, but no shortage of mobility and offensive talent with 27 goals and 64 points in 60 games. Um, and did we mention he’s a defenseman. . . ?
Against the Bruins, he had 20 shot attempts — by far the most of any player in this game — in just over 26 minutes of ice time.
Given the final score, that probably doesn’t mean much to Brad Marchand.
It appears Jacob Trouba will face supplemental discipline from the NHL.
The league’s Department of Player Safety has said in a Twitter statement that Trouba, the Winnipeg Jets defenseman, will have a hearing tomorrow for his head shot on Ottawa Senators forward Mark Stone during Sunday’s game.
Trouba was assessed only a minor penalty on the play. Stone, who dealt with a concussion prior to the beginning of the season, stayed down on the ice before he eventually made his way to the dressing room.
The incident occurred when Trouba stepped up to throw a hit on Stone, but instead caught him in the head as he followed through, sending Stone to the ice.
Stone was one of three Ottawa forwards to leave the game because of injuries, which are piling up for the Senators.
The Tampa Bay Lightning needed overtime to defeat the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday, but it’s a critical win for the Bolts as they try to chase down a playoff spot.
The hero? Jonathan Drouin, and he did so with a thrilling individual effort — making moves, then losing the puck and then immediately getting it back before he finally scored on the backhander.
That’s his 17th goal of the season. Tampa Bay gets a 3-2 win, which keeps them five points back of Toronto for the final wild card spot in the East.