There’s hope in Columbus as Jackets prepare for 1,000th game

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Tonight in Columbus, the red-hot Blue Jackets will play regular-season game No. 1,000 when they host the Philadelphia Flyers.

As you can see below (via hockeyDB.com), it hasn’t been easy for Jackets fans since the club entered the NHL at the turn of the millennium.

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And that one playoff appearance? Yeah, they were swept by the Red Wings.

But things are looking decidedly up for the Jackets. A seven-game winning streak, a franchise record, has catapulted them into the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, led by their Vezina Trophy-winning goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, as well as blue-chip youngsters Ryan Johansen, Ryan Murray and Boone Jenner, and veterans (but not old) Nathan Horton, RJ Umberger, Brandon Dubinsky, Nick Foligno, Jack Johnson, Fedor Tyutin, and James Wisniewski.

A stocked cupboard of prospects is another reason to be excited about the future.

“We’re on a roll, but we’re not where we want to be,” Horton said after the Jackets’ latest victory, an impressive 5-3 defeat of the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday. “We want to get back in the playoffs and stay there. We needed a winning streak; now we need to keep the thing going.”

That “roll” has been no fluke either. After struggling for much of the season to win the possession battle, the following chart (via Extra Skater) shows the difference in their recent play:

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Granted, besides Los Angeles, the Jackets haven’t exactly been rolling over the NHL’s elite. And it should be noted the Kings were playing their second game in two nights, and fourth of a tough road trip. A big test for Columbus will come before the Olympic break with a visit to California to play the Kings, Ducks and Sharks.

For now, though, let the good times roll.

“You don’t want to get caught up in it, but it shows the direction the club’s going,” said Umberger. “There have been some bad moments here. But we’ve got a lot more in us. We’re not satisfied.”