Hundreds of fans were in line three hours before the game, sitting in the sunshine on a warm day, laughing and talking. Another few thousand people milled around the main entrance to Nationwide Arena just soaking up the atmosphere. The Blue Jackets finished the season riding the hottest streak in franchise history – one that transformed a team used to playing meaningless games after the All-Star break into a club that has continually defied the odds to win big games over the past two months. “They never give up and they scrap and claw,” Mason said of the Blue Jackets. “That’s what they’ve been doing all year.” The Blue Jackets were 5-12-2 – the worst record in the NHL – in late February. Then came a record 12-game points streak (8-0-4) that turned things around as Bobrovsky began to put up stellar numbers. They battled to get into the conversation for a playoff spot, but most thought their undoing would be a grueling six-game road trip that preceded the game with Nashville. On that trip over four time zones and 12 days they went 5-1- 0 to set themselves up for the drama of the final game, running their record to 19-5-5 over the past two months. Asked if what his team went through will help it next season, Richards struggled for a response. “It’s really tough for me to answer that question right now,” he said. source: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/hockey/nhl/gameflash/2013/04/27/32283_recap.html
Columbus Blue Jackets: Will Vinny Prospal Be Back Next Season?
The Blue Jackets did so with little star power for most of the year, and will have trade deadline acquisition Marian Gaborik for a full schedule beginning in the fall. Leading the way for the Blue Jackets this season was veteran forward Vinny Prospal, who had 12 goals and 30 points. The 15-year veteran turned in a surprisingly great season, and is set to be a free agent this summer. The Blue Jackets would be wise to try and keep him around if he wants to play another season, and if he decides to retire instead he is certainly going out with a bang. While Mark Letestu lead the team with 13 goals, Prospal’s 18 helpers and 30 points were tops in those categories. He had two game-winning goals as well as a handful of multi-point games, leaving little room to argue that he was one of the bigger factors in the Blue Jackets’ surprising run. Prospal has now played more than 1100 career games, scoring 255 goals and putting up 765 points. This season showed that he still has something left in the tank, and he would be a great piece for the Blue Jackets to bring back. With many young players getting their shot this season or soon, having another veteran leader around would be a great course of action for the team. Signing goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to a long-term deal is obviously the Blue Jackets’ top priority, but extending an offer to Prospal should be one of their next moves after that. Jonathan Katje is an NHL senior writer for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter or add him to your circles on Google Plus . source: http://www.rantsports.com/nhl/2013/05/04/columbus-blue-jackets-will-vinny-prospal-be-back-next-season/
Blue Jackets stay in playoff hunt
”We came in here, did our job and we won our game,” said center Brandon Dubinsky , who added two assists. ”We’re going to have to do it again on Saturday. Hell of a job by these guys, six-game road trip, 5-1 against some damn good teams, really proud of these guys. The job’s not done, but we gave ourselves an opportunity.” Jamie Benn scored for the Stars, who have lost four straight (0-3-1) to miss the playoffs for the fifth straight season, the longest drought in franchise history. ”We were in every single game, and the guys battled so hard for that last stretch,” winger Eric Nystrom said. ”We just came up a little short and got zero help — it was just the combination of everything going against us. We got so many good, young guys coming up, so much character, that we’re going in the right direction.” Check out photos of the NHL’s 2013 ice girls . The Stars knew their fate by the time the third period started, and that’s when Columbus seized control of the game. ”To be honest, we knew after the second period and I think most of our players did too,” Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan said. ”However, at the moment, the loss stings. source: http://msn.foxsports.com/nhl/story/columbus-blue-jackets-beat-dallas-stars-to-stay-in-western-conference-playoff-race-042513
Nashville Predators at Columbus Blue Jackets
They’ve also piled up some eye-popping numbers during their rejuvenation. – They were 2-4-2 at home at one time, but are 11-1-3 since. – They were 2-8-0 in the first 10 road games but went 8-4-2 in their last 14, including 7-2-0 in the last nine. – Sergei Bobrovsky, the front-runner to win the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goaltender, was 3-6-3 with an .898 save percentage and a 2.90 goals-against average through February. Since then he is 17-5-3, .946 and 1.62. Now the season comes down to one night. “We’re going to have to do it again on Saturday. It’s going to be a great crowd and a great opportunity and it’s going to be a lot of fun,” center Brandon Dubinsky said. “The job’s not done but we gave ourselves an opportunity.” Nashville has gone 2-9-3 in its past 14 overall and has dropped nine straight and 15 of 16 on the road (1-11-4). It is the Predators’ longest slide away from home since one of the same duration spanned the 2002-03 and 2003-04 seasons. “It’s been a rough patch,” said defenseman Shea Weber, who leads the Predators with 19 assists and 27 points. Nashville, which will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2009, has dropped three of four to Columbus this season. source: http://stats.washingtonpost.com/nhl/preview.asp?g=2013042729