The Columbus Blue Jackets have been to the playoffs once in their 14 year existence in the NHL. Last time they were in the postseason, it was a short stay, getting swept by the Detroit Red Wings in 2009. This years team has a great chance to pull off the franchise first ever playoff win.
“I don’t think there’s a burden,” he said during preparations for the Blue Jackets’ first-round playoff battle with Pittsburgh that opens Wednesday. “This team’s into firsts. We set a franchise record in wins, we’re back in the playoffs now after a long drought. This team’s all about setting firsts. I don’t think we view that as an ‘if'; I think it’s a ‘when.'” Blue Jackets Forward Mark Lestsu said.
Jared Boll, the longest Blue Jacket player on the team, said that maybe the big thing five years ago was just making it into the postseason and being satisfied.
“It was a goal of ours and we made it,” he said. “But this year, it’s different. We’re here now and we expect to do good things. We’re not satisfied with just making the playoffs. We want to be successful.”
The Blue Jackets, had many franchise’s best this season. Owning a 43-32-7 with 93 points, and are definitely a huge underdog against they’re opponent their facing, the star-studded Pittsburgh Penguins.
Still, they’re aware that just getting into the playoffs isn’t going to cut it anymore. The bar has been raised in the state capital of Ohio.
Coach Todd Richards said just winning a game against the Penguins isn’t the point, they want to advance and capture greater opportunities.
“It would just be one game. We have to win four games. It’s about winning the series,” he said. “One game doesn’t win you a series. We have to be prepared to put games behind us right away, good or bad. And get ready for the next game.”
With one of the youngest rosters in the league, many of the Blue Jackets have no playoff experience. They’re missing some of their key players on the team in forwards Nick Foligno and R.J. Umberger but the hope is that they both might return later in the series, and without offseason signing Nathan Horton, out for the postseason after abdominal surgery.
This team is full of young talent, and it’s the driving force in the team’s success this season. They are led by the 21-year-old talent in the club’s scoring leader Ryan Johansen. The second year player, had 33 goals and 30 assists. But he still is a newcomer to the playoffs.
“That was cool,” he said with a grin, an occasional few hairs visible in his first playoff beard. “It’s just kind of another pinch you get where it’s actually going to happen and we’re here and we’re going to be at Nationwide Arena in front of our fans.” said Johansen.
Of course, there the Penguins, Metropolitan Division champion and one of the most successful teams in the last couple of seasons. The franchise has won three Stanley Cups,.the most recent in 2009, makes annual trips to the postseason and has great tradition.
On top of that, the current Penguins went 5-0-0 against the Blue Jackets this season.
Yet the Blue Jackets are confident and ready for the big stage, hopefully. .
“We’ve been one of the youngest, if not the youngest team, in the NHL all year,” Jackets player Derrick MacKenzie said. “We’ve turned that from a bit of a negative to a bit of a positive. These guys have stepped up. Guys like Boone (Jenner), Joe (Johansen), Cam (Atkinson), Matt (Calvert) and Ryan Murray , they may be boys on paper, but they play like men. I’m excited to see them in Game 1.”
Game 1 will be at Pittsburgh tomorrow night at 7:30pm, you can catch on FSN OHIO or NBC SPORTS NETWORK.