Tonight the Blue Jackets, sporting a 14 game winning streak, play the Wild, sporting a 12 game winning streak. Both teams have achieved significant accomplishments. This is the first time (according to Elias Sports Bureau) that North American professional sports teams that both have at least a 12 game winning streak will play each other. Hockey history on the eve of the hockey centenial.
Ironically, at this historic moment, the Jackets would be best served by maintaining their one game at a time approach. But I also see this as a precursor to the pressure of the playoffs, the need to win or go home, without having to go home. So win or lose it will be valuable experience for our cadre of young Blue Jackets. Ironically, our cadre of young Blue Jackets has great experience in playing with this kind of pressure, albeit in the AHL in their march to a Calder Cup Championship. This is where Zach Werenski comes in. Much as he made a good Lake Erie Monsters team a great team, he is having the same affect on the Blue Jackets. While the Wild and Bruce Boudreau, will have done their scouting, this is not a Blue Jackets team that they are used to playing. It should be interesting to see how this plays out.
I understand from the reporters at The Dispatch that Torts wants his guys to revel in this game. He has the right of it. Much more hockey to be played, but you don't get to do this kind of thing, and the players should find a sense of joy in it. Why? Because you need that to have a long term sustainability for the players. If you have your head down grinding towards the prize and all of a sudden it ends, you have to cope with that, win or lose. Tortorella has taken pains to make sure this team is on a sustainable path, limiting rink time to set them up for the grind of the season that lies ahead. To me, wanting his team to revel in this game is an extension of that path.
What, 47 more games to go? This is just one game, but a glimpse at the pressure to come. It is indeed, something for players, fans, and coaches to revel in, and enjoy to the fullest. At its very worst, it is good experience for our young players. I certainly plan on enjoying this game, and I am not afraid of them losing. The CBJ have already staked themselves out a piece of history, and a loss can't take that away from them.
On the other hand, win a few more games and steal a record from a Divisional rival (need an 18 win streak to steal the overall record from the Pens), just to piss them off. :-). That's something worth winning tonight's game for!!!