We were all encouraged to read the story of The Little Engine That Could when we were kids.
The tale teaches hard work and perserverence and the character building that comes with staying with something even against long odds.
"I think I can, I think I can."
For a long time it described the Columbus Blue Jackets.
In all but one season that little CBJ engine was trying as hard as it could to reach the top of the hill only to be stopped well before any sort of climb could begin.
In 2009, the team advanced further up the hill than it ever had before but fell far short of the summit.
Last year, the CBJ express was humming right toward that hill only to be sidetracked right at its base.
This year's team seems to have found a new track.
The Blue Jackets beat Detroit 4-1 Tuesday night. The win moved them into third place in the Metropolitan Division of the Eastern Conference.
The Jackets have been floating along the playoff bar since the start of the New Year.
A loss or two will throw them below the bar. A win or two pushes them back into the elite eight teams that will advance to the post-season.
There are no guarantees of course. Just because the Jackets are in good shape now doesn't mean you should go get your playoff ticket packages on your lunch break.
But there is something different about this team. Different from last year. Different from the playoff team of 2009.
The Little Engine That Could has grown up. It doesn't just think it can, it knows it can.
This Blue Jackets team has had some clunkers. The 7-0 loss to Edmonton was forgettable. Likewise, the blown lead at Philly and the 6-1 pasting at Chicago.
But, those games have been overshadowed by far more impressive wins.
This year's Blue Jackets have drilled Toronto 6-0 for one of their 2 wins in the Air Canada Center. They've taken two from the Rangers in Madison Square Garden.
They bounced back from the embarassement in Philadelphia to beat the same Flyers team 6-3 the next night.
They've won in shoot-outs and shutouts.
Their win over Detroit Tuesday gave them a 6-1-1 record over the past two seasons against an old familiar rival that used to use Columbus as fodder en route to more serious threats on their schedule.
This Little Engine has gone diesel.
Wins over teams like Nashville and Detroit used to be as rare as consistant winter weather in Columbus.
Road wins grabbed big headlines which (if allowed) could all be prefaced with "OMG!"
Not anymore. The team is 8 games over 500. They are 8th in the NHL in goals per game. They've claimed at least one point from every team in the Eastern Conference except one. (Pittsburgh)
Expectations are different. The cute little expansion express that occasionally found a way to knock one of the big boys off track is now doing it often enough as to not to give off that "Awww-isn't-that-great-for-them" kind of vibe anymore.
This engine hasn't arrived yet. The station and the top of the summit are still a few miles down the track.
But the way the team is playing right now, it's best not to stand in their way.