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The 5th Line Report: Building on success

by Martin Poston / Columbus Blue Jackets

A win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. A first home win. A second home win. A three-game win streak.

Needless to say, the last few days have been pretty nice. But is it a sign of things to come?

This is a team that was in need of a catalyst, in a time when local media types and bloggers alike are using words like "salvage the season" and "trade inquiries."

Was this weekend that catalyst?

The Jackets followed a gritty 2-1 win on the road against Metropolitan Division rival the Pittsburgh Penguins with a hard fought, and at times downright nasty, game against the Arizona Coyotes, which resulted in a 5-2 win. Scrums, fights a couple of misconducts-- for every Coyotes push, the Jackets pushed back.

Follow that with a great effort against the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night at Nationwide Arena, and you begin to see it. You recognize these guys.

Physical. Gritty. Tough to play against.

Has this team found itself again?

Young guys have stepped up on what is already a young team. The urgency is there, and players have answered the call without Brandon Dubinsky (elbow), who has emerged to become third on the team in scoring and has been one of the players John Tortorella has leaned on since taking over as head coach.

We're beginning to see the team of the last couple years that established its identity, and at times made other NHL teams downright nervous.

But establishing that identity is one thing. Consistently executing that identity is another one altogether.

The Blue Jackets know what they have accomplished so far. They also know that these couple wins are just the beginning; they still have to do a lot better and go a step farther. Find that consistency.

After a 10-game run of alternating pairs of wins with pairs of losses, the Jackets are on a three-game win streak. It’s a start, but there’s a long way to go.

The task will not get any easier traveling to Ottawa on Thursday, before coming home to face Nashville on Friday. The Senators have dropped their last two at home to New York and Detroit, but took both teams beyond regulation time.

The Predators offense has been on-again, off-again of late, but when they have scored lately, they have done it a lot, hanging seven goals each on Ottawa and Winnipeg.

The Jackets then wrap the week with a Sunday matinee against the San Jose Sharks, whom they beat just two weeks ago on the Southern California road trip. The Sharks have leveled out to just above .500 after a 4-0 start, and will be wrapping a 10-day, six-game road trip on Sunday in Columbus.

Needless to say, if there was ever a good time for the Jackets to jell and find some consistency in their game, this is it. They must be opportunistic. Physical. Gritty. Tough to play against.

Sound familiar?

Home ice advantage has returned to Nationwide Arena these last two games. With two of three games in Nationwide the rest of this week, the Jackets need to continue that.

Where will you be?

See you at Nationwide on Friday, 5th Line.

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