How right (or wrong) were our five keys for CBJ success?

How right (or wrong) were our five keys for CBJ success?

Columbus Blue Jackets forward Cam Atkinson was featured on the cover of Alive back in October, the subject of a feature as we looked at the upcoming CBJ season. Given his 24-plus goals and 46-plus points in the first half of a season that has seen the team enjoy amazing success and the player off to a career-best start, I'm pretty comfortable taking some responsibility for it.

That same issue included a piece where I listed five things that needed to happen for the Jackets to have a better season than in the recent past. With the season nearing the All-Star break, I thought it might be good to go back and see how smart I was (or not).

1. Start strong

Improving on last season's (unfortunately) record-setting 0-8 start wasn't going to take much. A 3-3-1 October was followed closely by a 10-0 thrashing of the Montreal Canadiens in early November on home ice. Maybe only a mild portent of what was to come, but a good start nonetheless.

2. What about Bob?

As Bob goes, so go the CBJ? A Save Percentage hovering around 2.0 and a Goals Against Average of better than .930 have Sergei Bobrovsky solidly in the hunt for the Vezina Trophy, awarded each season to the league's top goaltender. A recent slump coincided with a week or so during which Bobrovsky was sidelined with an illness. Seems more than coincidental.

3. Torts camp

Hard to quantify something like this, but it's also hard to dismiss the results, and with players suggesting (as Brandon Dubinsky did following a December win, among others) the team is loaded with confidence when it comes out for third periods, it sounds like a full camp with Head Coach John Tortorella is paying dividends.

4. A Monster season

Most of the offseason buzz about players from last season's American Hockey League champion Lake Erie Monsters (now the Cleveland Monsters) “graduating” was about forward Oliver Bjorkstrand, who remains in Cleveland. Gritty center Lukas Sedlak took his place alongside Calder Trophy candidate Zach Werenski and Josh Anderson as fixtures in the CBJ lineup this season.

5. Who wants to be elite?

It's arguable at best that any of the CBJ's 25-and-under crowd has moved from being good to being elite. All-Star Seth Jones is clearly a No. 1 defender, but probably wouldn't be considered elite. Center Alexander Wennberg has also taken a step, but needs to take another to move into the elite class.