Really, who knew the Columbus Blue Jackets were going to be this good, this early on.
In their existence, the Jackets have been to the post-season just twice, and have won all of two games. Those two wins came in a first round ouster at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2014, after Columbus enjoyed it’s best season in franchise history.
Since then, they went on a downward spiral that got a coach fired (Todd Richards) and precipitated the hiring of firebrand John Tortorella, who inherited what many thought was a mess of a team.
Funny how it’s worked out thus far.
The Jackets have lost just five games in regulation of the 24 they have played and sit third in the Metropolitan Division.
They aren’t the exception of a half-dozen teams trending the right way as this is written, either.
With an eye to the standings at the one-third mark of the NHL season, here are 12 teams swinging either up the standings, or down.
The Capitals have won two straight and have a winning record at 15-7-3. But, for a team that won a Presidents Trophy and has all kinds of scoring and great goaltending, clinging to a wild card spot is hardly cause to celebrate. The Eastern Conference is so tight, that only 12 points separate the best, Montreal (37 points) from the worst, the Leafs and Islanders (25 points). There are nagging little problems with last year’s Presidents Trophy winners, not the least of which is secondary scoring. After Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin, Marcus Johansson and the injured T.J. Oshie, there has been a dearth of scoring. Evgeny Kuznetsov, who led the Caps in scoring last year, has three assists in his last two games, but had just three points in his previous 14. Of Washington’s 65 goals, the aforementioned four have 39 of them. The Caps could also use a scoring push from the rear, with just three goals coming from their defensive corps. If any of their hot players go cold, it could spell disaster.