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Blue Jackets Preparing To Skate Into Season Of High Expectations

The Columbus Blue Jackets are about to begin their 14th season, and after a spectacular finish last year, the buzz around professional hockey in Columbus is real.

Terry Tucker of Gahanna, a season ticket holder since day one, says the expectation is for this team to make the playoffs.

“Oh absolutely, expectations are always high. And after last season they are especially high," Tucker said at a preseason hockey game last week.

“We hope to get to the playoffs this year. After the way they finished last year and some of the moves that they made, the expectations are even higher. We hope to make it to the playoffs this year.â€?

Blue Jackets head coach Todd Richards said the energy and excitement the team and the city shared last year is something they need to carry over to this season.

“We’d like to start with a win the first night and a win the second night,â€? Richards said. “I’m anticipating this rink is going to be electric, the atmosphere, on Friday. I think it’s important we use that. We have to get the fans involved with the game with the style of play, and I think that’s what we did last year.

“I think the fans loved coming to the game and were energized by how we played the game, and thus we were energized by the crowd and the excitement in the crowd.â€?

Richards said he knows this fanbase has the potential to be one of the best in the league.

“Both sides working together can be a pretty powerful thing, but first and foremost we’ve got to give them a reason to stand up and cheer,â€? Richards said.

This season will be like none the Jackets have ever seen. During the offseason, realignment moved Columbus to the Eastern Conference. Dispatch beat writer Aaron Portzline said this move is something the franchise has wanted for several years.

“The franchise has wanted for 13 years, ever since they joined the NHL as an expansion franchise, they’ve wanted to be in the East,â€? Portzline said. “The travel is shorter, the potential for natural rivalries is there.â€?

Portzline said Columbus’ new home in the East is known more for finesse hockey with more scoring and better puck handling. Certainly a change from the big, brute-like play they leave behind in the West.

Portzline said the preseason hype around this team is real, and he believes this team is going to give fans a reason to come to nationwide arena.

“I’ve never seen optimism this high. Finally there is going to be a team in Nationwide Arena that looks like it belongs in the National Hockey League,â€? Portzline said.

The puck drops for the first time this season in Nationwide Arena tonight at 7 p.m. against an old Western Conference foe, the Calgary Flames.