Photo credit: Globe and Mail
Rick Nash was the face of the Columbus Blue Jackets for nine seasons.
So it was a bittersweet moment when the only true superstar the franchise had ever had agreed to waive his no-trade clause to go to the New York Rangers.
The Blue Jackets had only made the playoffs once in its not-so-storied history. The Rangers boasted some big names in their lineup and had just made the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 2007. It was obvious that Nash wanted to go to a team that had a legitimate chance of, not only making the playoffs, but also making a run for the Stanley Cup, and that team wasn’t Columbus.
If you thought Columbus would have seller’s remorse, think again. An informal Twitter poll done by Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch asked whether or not Columbus fans would do the Rick Nash trade again – the Blue Jackets received Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon and a first round draft pick in return – and the answer was overwhelming on the “Yes” side.
And who would blame them?
Perhaps it’s a by-product of a shortened season, but with only one-third of the season left to play, there’s not much difference between the two teams. The Rangers, who many thought would be legitimate Stanley Cup contenders, especially with Nash in the lineup, are barely clinging on to the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, the Blue Jackets, who many thought would occupy their usual spot in the bottom of the Western Conference, are only 2 points out of a playoff spot.
Starting at the top, where GM John Davidson has started to mold the Blue Jackets into a young, hard-working team, and through the lineup where guys like Dubinsky, Anisimov, Nick Foligno, Mark Letestu, Jack Johnson and Sergei Bobrovsky are leading the team on a nightly basis, there is, for the first time in a long time, a feeling among the faithful that their team can beat any team on any given night.
And it took the trading of their superstar in the summer to pave the way for their success so far this season.
17-9-6, 40 points (2nd in the Northwest Division, 4th in the Western Conference)
This is the third and final meeting between the Canucks and the Blue Jackets this season. Neither of the first two meetings were decided in regulation time. In their first meeting on March 7, Matt Calvert scored the OT winner for the Blue Jackets. Five days later, Mason Raymond scored the shootout winner to win the game for the Canucks and kickstart their current 6-2-0 run.
Sergei Bobrovsky has been the Blue Jacket’s best player this season. Playing in the final year of his contract, Bobrovsky is 8-1-2 in his last 11 starts. He is 3rd in the NHL in save % (0.927) and is 6th in both GAA (2.17) and shutouts (2).
Cory Schneider, who is getting his fifth consecutive start, has won 4 straight games and has allowed only 5 goals in that span.