The move to the Eastern Conference did the Columbus Blue Jackets good. They made the playoffs for the second time in their franchise's history, and they actually won a couple games. Really. No fooling. The Blue Jackets actually showed their fans what it is like to win, and what it sounds like when doves cry. That's all well and good, but now expectations may be raised. You know, maybe the fans can see their team actually win a playoff series?
The Jackets and their plus-15 goal differential was solid last year, and they were a real middle of the pack team. Ryan Johansen broke out with 33 goals and 63 points. Sergei Bobrovsky was great once again, posting a .923 save percentage. Some other players, both young and old, provided depth.
I trust in Bobrovsky, and Johansen has a lot of talent, although the team and Johansen have had a contract standoff. I imagine it will be resolved, but it's not good. The team brought in Scott Hartnell, who is a solid veteran, and Nathan Horton will maybe be healthy this year. The defense is led by two good veterans in James Wisniewski and Fedor Tyutin, and a mediocre one in Jack Johnson. Also, Ryan Murray, who is a very promising young defender.
On the one hand, I think the offense and the defense will be good. I also think Bobrovsky will be good, but I imagine his numbers may drop just a bit. By that I mean he'll go from great to good, which is fine, but is a legit drop off. Can guys like Murray and Johansen make up that lost value? They are going to be in a playoff race. Teams like Washington, New Jersey, and even some like Toronto, Ottawa, and the Islanders will be fighting for their spot. I think Columbus is better than maybe all of those teams, save for perhaps the Capitals. There is a good chance the Jackets make their third playoff appearance, but it isn't a given, and this may not be the year they win a series.