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NHL scores 2016: The Blue Jackets are the surprise of the season

What a fun, strange ride.

New York Rangers v Columbus Blue Jackets Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

Let’s go ahead and address the Midwest elephant in the room.

The Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA Championship. That’s nuts. The Cleveland Indians were one win away from winning the World Series. That’s ridiculous.

And, in case you forgot, the Lake Erie (now Cleveland) Monsters got it all started by winning the American Hockey League title this spring.

So there’s clearly something going on with Ohio sports right now. And it’s time we all sit back and realize it’s affecting the Columbus Blue Jackets, too.

We’re just two weeks removed from the Jackets obliterating the Canadiens in a 10-0 win. They haven’t slowed down:

As of Saturday morning, after a big 4-2 win over the high-flying New York Rangers, the Jackets sit in a playoff spot. This, after a historically awful season and a United States showing at the World Cup so bad that people thought coach John Tortorella would carry that failure over to his NHL team. Instead, they’re doing the kind of fun, magical things young teams with nothing to prove do.

You know, like taking a slap shot to the forehead, bleeding on the ice, getting 36 stitches and then scoring the game-winning goal.

Small stuff like that.

We’ve seen Columbus make surprise playoff runs before (hello, 2013-14), but not with the amount of young talent and potential they have now. It’s fun watching it all come together right now, even if the rough stretches that hit every team are on the horizon.

Scores

Blue Jackets 4, Rangers 2

Capitals 1, Red Wings 0

Penguins 3, Islanders 2 (OT)

Hurricanes 3, Canadiens 2

Blackhawks 3, Flames 2

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Three Things We Learned

1. The Islanders are lost

Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Islanders Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

It’s never a good sign, in any sport, when your team’s general manager has to come out and defend his coach. That’s exactly what happened before the Islanders hosted the Penguins on Friday, as Garth Snow gave Jack Capuano the dreaded vote of confidence.

Here’s how our Islanders blog responded:

I put more of the blame on Capuano than Snow at this point because I want to see these same players performing under a different structure than they have been over the last season-plus. I think of the team as a group of stock cars driving behind a pace car. Once that pace car pulls over, some of the racers might fall apart, some might spin out of control and some might crash. But maybe some also achieve great speeds and have a chance at a spot on the podium.

And New York came out with a listless effort Friday night against the Penguins in a 3-2 overtime loss. They sit tied with the Sabres for the worst record in the Eastern Conference. With Pittsburgh, Washington and the Rangers looking threatening and the Devils, Hurricanes and Blue Jackets punching above their weight, the Islanders are essentially piling dirt over their own grave at this point.

2. Sidney Crosby’s early-season concussion is definitely not affecting his production

The Penguins captain missed the first few games of the year due to a concussion suffered in a preseason practice. He’s played in 11 games since. He has 11 goals.

His production this year is already a mighty upswing from his previous two campaigns, where he was dogged by questions about his sluggish start. It appears Crosby is starting his annual Hart Trophy campaign a few months early.

3. The Hurricanes are suddenly comeback kings

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Carolina Hurricanes James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

At one point the Hurricanes were getting outshot 26-6 and down 1-0 by Montreal in the back half of their home date with the Habs. By the end of the third period, the Hurricanes had scored three unanswered goals to secure their second comeback win in three games.

It had to feel good, too, considering the speculation surrounding a Hurricanes franchise relocation circulated by Montreal radio jocks this week as the Canadiens arrived in Raleigh. Carolina’s owner was fired up about the rumors during pregame, and his players certainly responded.

Impact Moment

I’m sorry, nebulous sub-headline, but did you not read what I said before?

I don’t read anything you write.

Then you must’ve missed the part where Matt Calvert GOT HIT IN THE FACE WITH A HOCKEY PUCK AT FULL SPEED, GOT 36 STITCHES AND THEN SCORED THE GAME-WINNER.

Get on with it!

Stat of the Night

Dallas Stars rookie Devin Shore does not like pizza.

That’s not a stat.

Neither are you.

You broke the rules.

What, no, I—

[Pat has been sacked]