Blue Jackets' success begins on the road
By ZACH DAVIS
Feb. 12, 2011
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Who needs home-ice advantage? Maybe the eighth seed is exactly what the Blue Jackets are aiming for.
As Columbus (27-23-5) makes a run at the playoffs in the Western Conference with a 7-3-2 record in its last 12 games, the Blue Jackets have played their best away from Nationwide Arena winning four games and recording a point in two overtime losses over that span.
"All winning teams and playoff teams are great at home and are good on the road," Rick Nash said. "It seems like we have got the road covered we have to get better here."
Columbus has recorded 30 points in 27 games (13-10-4) on the road this season and is winners of four straight, one shy of a franchise record.
"When we go on the road it seems like we play our game a little more often," Head Coach Scott Arniel said. "We don't try to get cute or put on a show."
That type of play has concerned Arniel, and the Blue Jackets demonstrated it as recently as last night in the first period against Colorado. The Avalanche held a 1-0 advantage and outshot Columbus 12-6 in the first period before the Blue Jackets dominated the remainder of the game with a 26-20 edge in shots, grabbing a 3-1 victory.
"We got off to a slow start," Arniel said. "I thought our forwards had to get going. Our forwards looked like they were stuck in quicksand. They were getting cute and trying to make fancy plays. In the second period they really started to get going. We took over after that first period."
"We have just kept it simple," goalie Mathieu Garon said. "We have worked really hard on the road and never quit. We have been down a goal or two goals but we find a way to come back. We just have to take that same mentality in to the next game."
Columbus' recent road success hasn't been easy, as the Blue Jackets have picked up victories over Pittsburgh (35-18-4) and Detroit (33-16-6), owners of the third and fourth best records in the NHL, respectively. The Penguins own the most home victories (20) of any team in the league.
Saturday's test will not be any easier at Dallas (31-18-6). The Stars own the second-best road record in the Western Conference at 17-7-5 and have nine points in their last six games (4-1-1) at the American Airlines Center.
"We have a tough one going into Dallas," Arniel said. "We are at our best when we are a complete team playing for 60 minutes. We have to be a complete team for us to knock them off."
Sitting five points behind eighth-seeded Calgary, the Blue Jackets have an important stretch in the end of February. Along with the Stars, Columbus faces sixth-seeded Nashville twice, seventh-seeded Phoenix, and Los Angeles and Chicago, who both sit just ahead of the Blue Jackets vying for the last spot in the West.