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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Columbus Blue Jackets: The New Kardiac Kids?

The Columbus Blue Jackets are the new version of the Kardiac Kids. Don't believe me, I 'll be happy to explain.

The Kardiac Kids originally referred to the 1980 Cleveland Browns and their quarterback, Brian Sipe, who won numerous games in the the final moments on the way to an 11-5 record.

Recently it seems the Blue Jackets have stolen a page from those Browns playbook, with two of their last three straight wins coming in overtime, and the other one a shootout victory over the Minnesota Wild. And while it appears controversy can't elude the reincarnated version of the Browns, the Blue Jackets keep on brimming with excitement.

Take last night's game against Anaheim for instance. I tuned in a little late, and the Ducks scored the first goal to take a 1-0 lead in 1st. After the Jackets tied the score at 1 in the 2nd, the game would be a back and forth affair that would end a 2-2 tie in regulation. Then, just as they did two nights before in Denver, the Jackets would escape with another overtime road win.

It's an amazing turn of events, especially since not more than a couple of months ago my best friend and I were looking ahead to the NHL Draft, and the Jackets' prospects of securing the no. 1 overall pick. No way either of us thought that the Jackets had a legitimate chance to make the playoffs. Yet with four games remaining, they are in sole possession of eighth place, with a chance to improve on that tonight vs. the Kings.

And it all starts with the play of their goalie wunderkid, Sergei Bobrovsky.  While I don't totally understand stats such as GAA (Goals Against Average, where  Goalie Bob's 2.03 is .3 better than last years best goalie,) or save % (Bobrovsky's .93 is also better than anyone on Columbus in the 2011-2012 campaign), I really don't need to. The eye test tells me that this kid is good, and that anyone would compare him to the likes of Dominik Hasek, Patrick Roy, or Henrik Zetterburg after being in the big league for a month is saying something. To be honest, I have watched Marc Denis, Pascal Leclaire and Steve Mason tend goal for the CBJ, and none of them showed the quickness that I have seen in Bobrovsky.

Lost in all of this might be the job that head coach Todd Richards has done with this team, however. I must admit that, following the departure of both Ken Hitchcock and Claude Noel, I thought Richards would be no more than a stopgap coach. But he has the team believing the can play with anyone, and the sky is the limit.

So while many people are quick to look to next season( in addition to their first round draft picks, the Jackets will also return this season's top pick, Ryan Murray, who never set foot on the ice), I am looking forward to seeing the Jackets make waves in this years playoffs. And to all the doubters who say this is just a product of a lockout shortened season, I say this: we shall see.

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