After five seasons, four head coaches, and too many losses to count, the Columbus Blue Jackets are back in the NHL playoffs for only the second time in franchise history after defeating the Dallas Stars 3-1 on April 9.
The Jackets are taking on the #2 seed Pittsburgh Penguins in a best-of-seven series and are looking for their first playoff win after being swept by the Detroit Red Wings in 2009.
The team is coached by Todd Richards, one of the US assistant coaches in Sochi. Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, last year’s recipient of the Vezina trophy for the league’s top goaltender and one of four Blue Jackets on the Russian Olympic Team, is a strong team leader.
Other top players include forwards Ryan Johansen, Artem Anisimov (another Russian Olympian), and Brandon Dubinsky, along with defensemen Ryan Murray and Jack Johnson.
Many Columbus Academy students have been following the Jackets and are excited to see what the team can do. Senior, Zach Valdman, likes the team’s chances this year. “The Jackets are young, hard-working, and can hang with the best in the league. If Bobrovsky plays well and Johansen continues to light it up, I could see the Jackets upsetting the Penguins in the first round of the playoffs,” he says.
Connor McAfee’16 believes this playoff appearance is very important for the fan base and the city of Columbus. McAfee says, “A lot of casual fans have sort of been tedious to going to games, and even the hardcore fans aren’t filling up the stadium . . . Columbus is just desperate for a winner, and I think this team is finally supplying it, or at the very least, on the cusp of supplying that winner that Columbus just craves.”
Even if the Jackets do not do well in the playoffs, their future looks bright as they are the NHL’s fifth youngest team with an average age of 26.2 years. None of the players is older than 32.
Brett Trimbur’15 is optimistic about the team’s future. He says, “It may not be the year this year, but they definitely have a bright future. Johansen has a huge ceiling. (Matt) Calvert is showing promise.”
Here is the schedule for the series. All games can be seen on Fox Sports Ohio:
April 16: at Pittsburgh, loss 4-3
April 19: at Pittsburgh, 7:00 PM,win 4-3 (2 OT)
April 21: at Columbus, 7:00 PM
April 23: at Columbus, 7:00 PM
April 26: at Pittsburgh, TBD
April 28: at Columbus, TBD
April 30: at Pittsburgh, TBD
Written by Josh Levy’15