I can’t believe its December already.
It’s the holiday time of year and 2015 isn't far away. I still can’t believe the year that it’s been and how great it has been personally -- especially as a Blue Jackets fan.
The year started with the Jackets on a bit of an upswing headed into January 2014. The start to last season wasn't what we'd hoped for and our reigning Vezina Trophy winning goaltender was out for at least another few weeks. December 2013 saw us string together some wins, moving us in the right direction as a franchise but still on the outside looking in...then January came, and the Jackets were hot.
A franchise record 10 wins were racked up in January, which stands as the best month ever by a Blue Jackets team. It also included a franchise record eight-game winning streak. This propelled us through to April as one of the bubble teams for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
But for me, April was something more than a playoff push. It was a life changing moment as a Columbus Blue Jackets fan.
When April came around, this was a team looking to make good on John Davidson’s promise of building "brick by brick.” The Jackets had eight games in 12 days with little room to slip up in the Metropolitan Division if they wanted to play for Lord Stanley’s Cup.
On Apr. 4, the Blue Jackets were back home after shutting out the Flyers the night before in Philadelphia, facing the Chicago Blackhawks. After two periods of play, the score was tied at 3-3 and the third period came along quite nicely as both teams battled hard...and all looked well until the last minute of the period. The Blackhawks were attacking hard, and, with mere seconds left in regulation, Ben Smith puts one in behind Bobrovsky for a 4-3 Chicago win.
Disbelief. Shock. We needed that point in the standings so badly.
You either accept the letdown and do nothing about it, or you can step up and do something about it. Coupled with the passion shared by Jordan, TJ and I, the Blue Jackets community's response to that game was the inspiration behind a movement. It caused us to act.
The "WeAreThe5thLine" movement was born and you guys immediately latched on to it. It was alive and roaring throughout April, propelling the team to its second playoff berth in franchise history. Banners, signs, shirts, and anything bearing “The 5th Line” were popping up all over the city. From someone who was part of this movement from the beginning, I couldn’t describe what it was like watch all of you embrace this monster you helped create.
Just watching the 5th Line banner rising at the start of all the home playoff games…chills. The players and organization felt it. It was truly an amazing experience that neither Blue Jackets fans nor I will ever forget. It brought us closer together. It helped create this family atmosphere among everyone in the arena and in the city.
Now, let’s fast forward to December 2014. At one point, the Jackets were sitting in 30th place and now the team has rattled off some wins and started to claw its way back into the playoff race -- but there's a long way to go.
So what do we do now, 5th Line? According to all the “experts” and other fan bases, we have no chance to get back in the hunt. Do we truly, as a fan base, believe this season is a wash? I don't think that and I don't think you do, either.
Remember what I said earlier about what you do during letdowns?
I refuse sit idly by and allow our circumstances right now as a club determine our ultimate outcome. I’ve seen the power of the 5th Line during the Arizona game in April (remember that Johansen goal?) and the playoff series with Pittsburgh. I saw it at the home opener in October vs. the Rangers. It’s a special energy that can only take place when everyone is involved. It’s our battle cry.
As the legendary coach Herb Brooks said: "great moments are born from great opportunity.” We have a great opportunity as The 5th Line to help this club take the next step toward the ultimate goal, the Stanley Cup.
Pittsburgh is one of those teams who are standing in our way this Saturday. We get to prove to the Penguins and the rest of the NHL once again that we might be down, but The 5th Line and the Jackets are never out! We are still in this to win this!
Let’s end 2014 the way we began, 5th line.
C-B-J! C-B-J! C-B-J!