While some teams view long road trips as both a mental and physical challenge, the Jackets view it as an opportunity to build confidence, earn crucial wins, and build a strong team bond.
Following a win in their own home opener against Minnesota, the club traveled on a seven-day, three-game west coast road trip. Despite a 6-3 loss to San Jose, a 5-3 victory over Vancouver and a 2-0 shutout over Phoenix left the Blue Jackets players excited with how the team is playing.
"It was a really good road trip," center Antoine Vermette said. "Anytime you can get two out of three on the road it's really good. If we keep that average, I’m sure we'll be in great shape."
"We can't really ask for a better start," added defenseman Marc Methot. “The San Jose game was obviously something that we can learn from; they're a great hockey club. Overall I think we’re really happy and that gave us a real confidence boost coming into this week."
Seven of the Jackets first 10 games will be played on the road and while playing in the hostile atmosphere of other team’s arenas may serve as a challenge, many of the Jackets feel this is a good time of the year to be on the road.
"I'd rather do it early on than at the end of the season," said Vermette. "At the end of the season people are more tired, so you want to stay close by playing at home. You’ve got to look at it in a positive way."
The Blue Jackets longest trip during the final month of the season is to St. Louis, along with trips to Detroit, Nashville, Chicago and New Jersey.
"Everyone is different, but I believe getting those road trips out of the way is a good thing," said Methot. "You get to be around the team a little bit more, and get some more bonding time. I think it will be great for us to do it early in the season and get those road trips out of the way."
Methot also noted that the team can learn a lot by playing on the road early in the season as there is an important difference in how they approach the games.
"The biggest thing about being on the road is watching our starts," Methot said. "We don't want to give a team momentum.
"When you're on the road and playing against those hostile crowds, once they get loud, their team feeds off that. We try and eliminate that factor by trying to come out early and get a couple of goals."
For Blue Jackets forward Kristian Huselius, it is just as important to maintain focus when returning home from a long trip out west.
"It's always tough to come back from the road to play home games," Huselius said. "You're relaxed and you think it's going to be easy, but it’s not going to be easy. We need to make sure we’re mentally prepared for these next two games here."
The Blue Jackets players agree playing out west also provided a great atmosphere for the team to come together and bond.
"It's great to go out west, there are a lot of fans in the stands, and we play against good teams," Huselius said. "It's good for team chemistry to go on the road early in the year, to get the group together and have team dinners."