John Tortorella has said it several times: the league gets better, the competition gets smarter, and the games get more meaningful in the second half of the season.
With the turn of a new calendar year, the Blue Jackets want to continue to build upon their early success and carry that momentum in 2017. Much like December, January is a busy month and they'll have plenty of teams gunning for them, as they entered the new year as the top team in the NHL. The Oilers are up first, wrapping up the season series with the Blue Jackets in the first game of 2017.
The second installment of the season series between the Rangers and Blue Jackets will, unfortunately, have a hard time living up to the first. Back on Nov. 18, the Blue Jackets won an emotional game in front of a raucous crowd at Nationwide Arena on the back of Matt Calvert, who scored the game-winning goal in the third period after getting 36 stitches to his forehead a few minutes earlier.
Another Metropolitan Division battle here, and this time, the Flyers make their first visit of the season to Nationwide Arena. It's a rare back-to-back on home ice for the Blue Jackets (though not that rare this season, as they played two straight home games against Pittsburgh and Montreal just before Christmas), and they'll do so with two important games against strong divisional opponents.
The Blue Jackets will play more divisional games this month than they have at any point so far this season. This Tuesday night game at Nationwide Arena sees the Hurricanes make their first appearance in Columbus, and this is a Carolina team that always plays hard and always plays well against the Blue Jackets.
The second of three home games of the week, the Blue Jackets host Ottawa for the first time this season in a Thursday night affair. Ottawa is a much-improved club this year under new head coach Guy Boucher, and they're making it interesting in the ultra-competitive Atlantic Division.
The Hurricanes will be awfully familiar with Columbus after this week, which sees them make two trips to Nationwide Arena in a span of four days.