1. It's no secret the Blue Jackets were at the bottom of the barrel a few years ago, but now, it looks like they're building a contender. What would you say has been the greatest factor in the turnaround?
If you had to pin the Blue Jackets turn-around on one guy, it’s no doubt because of Sergei Bobrovsky. But beyond looking at his great play and impressive stats is a philosophy that was put in place by President of Hockey Operations John Davidson, and further practiced by GM Jarmo Kekalainen and Head Coach Todd Richards. Before, this team was top heavy. All about one or two star players (who often were either too young or too far past their prime to really be stars). Now it’s about having a third-line center like Artem Anisimov who scored 22 goals last year. Or Mark Letestu, who’s practically a chameleon, and plays in all situations and excels wherever he’s needed, whether it’s the fourth line or the power play. It’s not just about Ryan Johansen and Bobrovsky. It’s about the team, and that’s what this team was missing for so long.
2. There are a lot of young players on the roster, including a couple of rookies in Alexander Wennberg and Marko Dano. How are they all faring? Who are you most excited about?
Wennberg and Dano have had some early ups and downs, as all rookies do, but overall they’ve been great in the first 3 games. These are guys that are clearly intelligent, and seeing how they seamlessly blend into the roster has maybe been the most impressive thing. Wennberg’s already had some dazzling plays and it’s only a matter of time before he’s a star in the league, whether this year or next.
3. Lineup-wise, how have the Jackets handled Nathan Horton's injuries? Is his loss definitely felt, or have they been able to work around it?
It’s sad to say, but this team hasn’t seen Nathan Horton in the lineup enough to miss him not being in the lineup. This team could challenge the best in the East with a healthy Horton, but the truth is, they’re still doing pretty well without him. Last year, Boone Jenner stepped up. This year, Cam Atkinson looks ready to become a 30-goal scorer. Hopefully we’ll see Horton back on the ice, because by all accounts he’s a great guy and we love having him as part of the Blue Jackets, but it remains to be seen if he’ll ever have an impact, and that’s really unfortunate.
Thanks, Andy! Things don't sound too bad in Columbus now. For more on the Jackets, be sure to check out The Cannon, as well as my answers to Andy's questions here. For more on tonight's game, be sure to take a look at our game preview!