Since going all in at the NHL trade deadline the Columbus Blue Jackets have been … confusing.
Honestly, that is probably the only way to describe the past month as they have failed to consistently play up to the expectations they created with a flurry of blockbuster trades and have been unable to make any kind of a significant move in the standings.
Their game against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night was probably the most significant one remaining on their schedule, simply because this is one of the teams they are directly competing with for a playoff spot. A regulation win would result in a four-point swing in the standings for one of them.
It was the Blue Jackets that ended up coming out on the positive side of that swing.
They managed to shake off an ugly first period performance and stormed back for a 6-2 win that brought them even with the Canadiens in the standings at 90 points and, for now, gives them possession of the second Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. They are also now just one point back of the Carolina Hurricanes, who lost again to the Washington Capitals on Thursday, for the first Wild Card spot.
Oliver Bjorkstrand was the biggest offensive star for the Blue Jackets with a pair of goals, while Artemi Panarin, Brandon Dubinsky, David Savard, and Riley Nash also found the back of the net.
The other big story in this game was a hit by Canadiens forward Andrew Shaw that knocked Blue Jackets defender Adam McQuaid out of the game. Have a look.
Shaw was given a two-minute minor for interference during the game, but the NHL’s Department of Player Safety is already looking at it for potential supplemental discipline.
Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella, who went absolutely ballistic on the bench after the hit, called it “Suspendable. Ridiculously suspendable” in his post-game press conference.
Shaw was announced as the Canadiens’ nominee Masterton Trophy earlier in the day. He has 18 goals and 43 total points in only 57 games has been one of the Canadiens’ most productive forwards this season.
With Paul Byron already injured as a result of his fight on Tuesday night the Canadiens could find themselves without two key forwards at a pivotal point in their season.
Given that their remaining schedule is absolutely brutal (their final four regular season games are against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, Washington Capitals and Winnipeg Jets — four teams that are not only playoff teams, but are also legitimate Stanley Cup contenders) the timing of all of that could not possibly be worse.
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.