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Hottest team in the NHL? The Columbus Blue Jackets, of course

Greg Wyshynski
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So it is in this Topsy-turvy mixed-up lockout season world of ours that Chris Kunitz has 36 points in 26 games, Antti Niemi has a 1.96 GAA in 20 games and, after 26 games, the Columbus Blue Jackets are four points out of the No. 8 seed in the west.

Columbus. Sweet, miserable, no-All-Star-Game-havin’ rebuilding Columbus. Yup.

The Blue Jackets won their fifth in a row, a shootout victory against the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday. Overall, the Jackets are on a 5-0-2 streak; their five-game winning streak and their seven-game points streak are both one short of franchise records, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

John Davidson, thou art miraculous …

Amazing what some competent goaltending will do for you. From the Dispatch on goalie Sergei Bobrovsky:

Bobrovsky has stopped 124 of 128 shots in his last five games. That's a .969 save percentage. Good chance Bobrovsky will be one of the NHL's 3 stars of the week, for period Monday through Sunday. In that span, he's 4-0 with a 0.77 goals-against average and .972 save percentage.

Caveat time: Three of the Jackets’ last six wins have come against the Red Wings, who they’ve owned this season – 4-0-1, the first time they’ve ever won four games in a season against Detroit.

Also, four of the five wins came at home; the good news however being that the Jackets play their next five games at home. That’s nine out of 11 games on home ice in March. Nice schedule if you can get it.

Can the Jackets actually complete the playoff push?

Mark Erickson of Hash Tag CBJ looked at their chances:

The road ahead is dark and full of dangers. To have just a 58.3% chance of getting the 8th seed in the playoffs the Jackets will have to finish the season with a 13-6-3 record. To improve that to 95% they have to go 14-6-2. 6 regulation losses in the next 22 games. That’s quite a tall task.

The one thing I think we have going for us that we lacked in 2010-11 is the guy behind the bench. Todd Richards has yet to lose a game when leading after two periods behind the #CBJ bench. The 2010-11 team seemed to lose all of their momentum after losing that game to Nashville. I think this team is learning how to win, but more importantly they are learning how to respond in the face of adversity. We’ve seen it all season long, games that the Scott Arniel coached teams would have given up, this team is fighting back. The Dallas game was a great example, and in my opinion a real turning point for this team. The Jackets fought back from 4 different 1 goal deficits to tie the game every time. They’d ultimately go on to lose in overtime but the heart they showed in fighting back has set the tone for the current streak they are on.

This is all either great news or absolutely terrible news for GM Jarmo Kekalainen and President Davidson, who probably had draft lottery victory dreams dancing in their heads.

You can’t be sellers at the deadline if there’s a sniff of the playoffs – this fan base is too ravenous for a playoff berth.

Would they become – gulp – buyers?

This is all getting ahead of ourselves and yadda yadda, but seriously: After the Rick Nash deal and the upheaval in the front office, did you think this team would have a sniff of the playoffs halfway through the season?

Or such is parity?

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