The Columbus Blue Jackets have ended their 2016/17 season with their heads held high. This past season is marked as the best season in franchise history. The stats do prove it also.
During the month of October, the season was just beginning. New faces such as veteran Sam Gagner, rookies Zach Werenski, Lukas Sedlak, and Markus Nutiavarra were suiting up to make their NHL debuts for the Jackets. Head coach John Tortorella was already on the hot seat as the first coach to get fired at the start of the season (He can thank Gerard Gallant for that honor).
The Jackets wouldn’t start off too good, not getting points in their opening two games, including a loss to the Boston Bruins for their home opener. They would bounce back with a win over the Chicago Blackhawks, Dallas Stars, and Anaheim Ducks. They would end the month 3-3-1.
The month of November was great. Columbus won three of their next four. One win included a demanding 10-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens. This set the most goals scored in franchise history.
As the fall month progressed, the Jackets went nine of 14, only losing two games in regulation. This would see the team go from 25th to ninth in the league by the month’ end. This also saw rookie Werenski get Rookie Of The Month honors.
This deemed to be the best month in franchise history.
Not losing one game in the winter month, the team won all 14 of their games. To round out their perfect month, a 4-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild who went in riding a 12-game win streak. That’s not all. Gagner was named the Third Star of the week for the week of December 5-11th. Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky was named the First Star of the Month, and the Columbus Blue Jackets ended up first in the league standings and the Metropolitan Divison.
A win over the Edmonton Oilers sealed the team’s 16-game win streak. The longest in franchise history, and second-best in league history.
In addition to a win streak, winger Cam Atkinson, defenseman Seth Jones, and Bobrovsky were named to the Metro All-Star team for the 2017 NHL All-Star game. Tortorella was named head coach of the Metro squad but had to step down due to family concerns.
The team also made roster moves. Backup goaltender Curtis McElhinney was sent to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Jackets gave Joonas Korpisalo the call-up for the remainder of the season.
The Jackets held their .500 rating throughout the short month, including a 7-0 win over the New York Islanders, and then a 5-2 win over the New York Rangers just a few days later.
Columbus also recalled Oliver Bjorkstrand to their roster.
Columbus acquired Kyle Quincey and Lauri Korpikoski at the trade deadline. They also went on to win 10 of 16 games, which secured the franchises’ third Stanley Cup Playoff berth after a 4-1 win over the New Jersey Devils. Records were set in home wins, total wins, home points and total points in all of the month of March. Bobrovsky netted two shutouts back-to-back against the Devils in his four total for the month. The Russian net-minder was also nominated for the Masterton Trophy and was named the second star of the month, Werenski set a new franchise record for total points by a rookie. Jones tied the record for goals by a defenseman with 12 of the year. Jones and Werenski both became the first two Columbus defenseman to reach 40 points in a season.
The last month of the regular season didn’t end too well for the Jackets. Columbus lost six of their last seven matches before the end.
It didn’t get any better after their first-round exit in the playoffs by rival Pittsburgh Penguins, who defeated Columbus by a series score of 4-1.
Columbus did wonders with themselves. In Tortorella’s first full season as head coach, he managed to turn a basement team into a most feared team in one try. Although Columbus got bounced in the first round, the future looks bright for the team as they prepare for the 2017/18 season.