By Matthew Shepherd, ’19
After a hard fought series with the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Columbus Blue Jackets were unable to advance past the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Despite this, Blue Jackets fans and players can look back upon a record-breaking season.
Throughout the season, the Blue Jackets amazed hockey fans with their above average play and ability to win. In fact, their record for the regular season included 50 wins, with only 32 losses, eight of which were due to overtime or shootouts. Compared to previous years, the Blue Jackets improved greatly, with last year’s season only resulting in 34 wins, with 48 total losses.
The general success of this years team could be attributed to both excellence from the players, as well as new head coach John Tortorella, affectionately called “Torts” by many fans and the press.
When talking about Tortorella, sophomore Andrew Mastruserio said, “I think he’s brought a new intensity, he’s really amped up the team from last year. They’re really able to compete with the top teams, as seen by their 16 game win streak.”
Tortorella was not the only driving force behind the accomplishments of this year’s Blue Jackets. Players such as right wing Cam Atkinson, who scored 35 out of the team’s 108 regular season goals or goalie Sergei Bobrovsky who has a save percentage of 93.1.
Mastruserio said, “I certainly saw a lot more plays from the young people, like people they brought out of the minor league. Zach Werenski was a big asset, as well as Nutivaara and Bjorkstrand.”
Following the regular season, many fans were ecstatic about the Blue Jackets’ chances in the playoffs, but they were matched up against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the NHL’s defending champions and currently ranked third in the league. Disappointingly for many of the team’s supporters, the Blue Jackets were knocked out of the tournament in a 4-1 series.
Even though their dreams for the Stanley Cup were cut short, the Blue Jackets were still able to learn valuable lessons from their time in the playoffs.
When speaking to the press following his teams defeat, Tortorella said, “‘I don’t know if accomplishment’s the word… I think we’ve improved in areas, but I also think we obviously have a lot more improving to do.”
The fans feel similar to Tortorella, but some have high hopes for the upcoming season. Mastruserio said, “It’s hard to make early decisions, but as I said, with the young talent we have, we won’t really be losing too much talent. I think that we’ll have a young, experienced team which can really take on the bigger and better teams.”
While it is impossible to predict how well the Blue Jackets will do next year, they seem ready to reach the top. If the momentum of the 2016-2017 season carries over, many feel that next season will go well for the Columbus Blue Jackets.