The Columbus Blue Jackets have finally won a playoff series! What a time to be alive.
The Blue Jackets are into the second round, and they moved on by emphatically beating - sweeping - the President’s Trophy winning Tampa Bay Lightning. It was an upset almost no one predicted (none of the writers here saw this coming), but it happened nonetheless.
If you’re not already a fan of this plucky franchise (or perhaps watched your own favorite team fall short this season and would like to get in on some of this playoff action), it’s time to hop on the bandwagon. They’re a fun group of underdogs who (we hope) will be good for a long time. Welcome aboard! Consider this your unofficial primer to get you started as a Columbus Blue Jackets fan. We’re glad to have you.
Until recently (read: the John Tortorella era in Columbus), the Blue Jackets have been bad for pretty much the entirety of their history. The team made the playoffs each of the last two seasons, before falling in five games to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2017 playoffs (featuring Zach Werenski getting his face broken by a shot that resulted in a Penguins goal and not a stoppage in play). Last year saw the Jackets falling in six games (blowing a 2-0 series lead in the process) to the Washington Capitals.
Until this season, until this past Tuesday, the Blue Jackets had never won a playoff series. They were the only franchise in the big four sports to have never advanced in the playoffs. Yes, you read that correctly.
Franchise history was pretty grim, but there were moments to celebrate. Here is a brief list of important moments in Blue Jackets history:
- Inaugural season, forward Geoff Sanderson scores 30 goals (2000-01)
- Forward Rick Nash shares the Rocket Richard Trophy for most goals scored (2003-04)
- Rick Nash scores The Goal against Phoenix (Jan. 17, 2008)
- Jackets qualify for the playoffs for the first time, goalie Steve Mason wins the Calder Trophy for rookie of the year (2008-09)
- Forward Vinny Prospal points at the scoreboard in a 3-0 shutout of Detroit (Mar. 9, 2013)
- In a lockout-shortened season, goalie Sergei Bobrovsky wins the Vezina Trophy for best goalie in the league (2012-13)
- Jackets qualify for the playoffs for the second time (2014)
- Columbus earns its first-ever playoff win thanks to a Matt Calvert overtime goal in Game 2 (April 19, 2014)
- Brandon Dubinsky scores with 22.5 seconds left in regulation to force overtime against Pittsburgh in Game 4, setting up Nick Foligno’s game winner in overtime (April 23, 2014)
- The Blue Jackets beat the Montreal Canadiens 10-0 (Nov. 4, 2017)
- Columbus wins 16 games in a row and posts a perfect record in December, the second-longest winning streak in NHL history (Jan. 3, 2017)
- Jackets qualify for the playoffs for the third time (Mar. 20, 2017)
- Sergei Bobrovsky wins the Vezina Trophy again (2016-17)
- Blue Jackets win ten games in a row in March to qualify for the playoffs in back to back seasons for the first time in franchise history (2018)
- A summer trade for Artemi Panarin from Chicago, after which the dynamic Russian forward promptly set the team record for points in a season (81)
As you can see, franchise history has been ... grim, to put it mildly. The franchise has spent a good portion of its existence wandering in the wilderness, but the arrival of team president John Davidson, general manager Jarmo Kekalainen, and head coach John Tortorella have led to several of the best (and most consistent) years in franchise history. This season, however ...
This season has been an ... adventure for the Columbus Blue Jackets. Here’s a (brief) timeline of what has happened this season:
- Artemi Panarin, pending unrestricted free agent, refuses to commit to the franchise long-term when approached about his contract extension
- Sergei Bobrovsky, pending unrestricted free agent, announces in training camp that the front office “knows his plans” for the coming summer, leading to speculation that he has one foot out the door already
- Jackets struggle to find consistency as locker room drama hangs over the team, hover around wild card position in the standings for much of the season
- Sergei Bobrovsky suspended for one game after being pulled in a game in Tampa Bay
- GM Jarmo Kekalainen makes two “all-in” moves at the trade deadline, keeping Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky despite trade rumors while also bringing in two more pending unrestricted free agents, Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel from the Ottawa Senators
- Blue Jackets promptly blown out at home by Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets, slipping out of a playoff spot just weeks after going all in on the season - many in national media begin speculating if GM Jarmo Kekalainen’s job is on the line
- Blue Jackets have team “dinner and a beer” in Vancouver as pressure mounts after losses to the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers on western Canada road trip
- Blue Jackets win 7 of 8 games down the stretch to make the playoffs as second wild card team
- Blue Jackets fall behind Tampa Bay Lightning 3-0 after one period of game one, storm back to win 4-3
- Blue Jackets go on sweep President’s Trophy winning Tampa Bay Lightning for their first series win in franchise history
The Blue Jackets certainly struggled this season, but that late season meeting in Vancouver to have “dinner and a beer” seems to have spurred them on, just as we all expected (we didn’t expect this). As the second round approaches, the Blue Jackets have won 11 of their last 12 games (including playoffs) and have outscored opponents by a 53-22 margin.
Players to Love
- Artemi Panarin: The best playmaker on the team and owner of the two highest scoring seasons in franchise history (total goals plus assists). Fun loving owner of the cutest dog you’ve ever seen, Mr. Riziy.
- Seth Jones: One of the best defensemen in the NHL. Plays nearly 50% of every game as the anchor of the blue line (averaged the fourth most minutes per night in the NHL). Son to Amy Jones, the best hockey mom on Twitter.
- Nick Foligno: The captain. American. Steady season as one of the oldest guys on the team at 31 years old. By all accounts, the nicest human to ever live. Faced two medical emergencies with his children this season, named a finalist for Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for perserverence this season. After every win, he stretches his arms wide to hug…
- Sergei Bobrovsky: Goalie Bob. Goofy, Russian and extremely good. Famous as a TSN (Canadian ESPN) anchor’s catchphrase. Played extremely well in the first round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning
- Matt Duchene: Trade deadline acquisition who became the team’s leading scorer in the first round against Tampa Bay. Aspiring country singer.
- Zach Werenski: The youngest defenseman on the team, has spent much of his career paired with Seth Jones. Tough as nails - attempted to play through an orbital bone fracture after being struck with a puck in the 2017 playoffs, and played nearly all of his second season with a torn labrum in his shoulder and still scored 16 goals over the course of the 2018-19 season. Enjoys scooters.
- Josh Anderson: Big, tough, physical, and fast. Anderson is not afraid to drop the gloves and not afraid to score goals. Set career highs this season with 27 goals and 20 assists.
- Cam Atkinson: Diminuitive winger. Tied the franchise record for goals scored in a season this year by scoring 41. Started his own hockey academy in the community. Enjoys scooters.
- Pierre-Luc Dubois: Big, bruising, and not legal to drink yet. Dubois was drafted third overall in 2016 by the Blue Jackets (bucking conventional wisdom at the time) and has exceeded all expectations by developing into the number one center for the team, playing next to Artemi Panarin.
- Alexandre Texier: He’s played in six NHL games total after coming over from Finland and has already scored three goals, including two in the clinching game four against the Lightning. He’s only 19 years old, but has solidified a spot in the Blue Jackets’ lineup with his willingness to compete for every loose puck.
If you’re lucky enough to catch one of the playoff games in Nationwide (or any game in the future), there are a couple of things you need to know to blend in with the locals.
- Leo Welsh sings the national anthem and he’s awesome. After he’s introduced on the PA, the entire crowd yells “LEO!”
- “We are the 5th Line”: the fans are known as the 5th Line, a phrase coined by the fan group known as The CBJ Artillery. Fans have embraced the moniker.
- The Jackets own a cannon that fires when the team skates out and after every goal. Best goal celebration in the league.
- After the third CBJ goal, fans yell “CHILI!” to the tune of the Mexican Hat Dance, as fans get free chili the next day. It used to be Wendy’s, then Bob Evans, now it’s Roosters.
- Streamers. Ask Pittsburgh Penguins fans.
Gifs of the Season
Artemi Panarin just fought Charlie McAvoy and LOVED IT pic.twitter.com/JzQtN1eOHN— The Second Round Cannon (@cbjcannon) March 13, 2019
What a beauty. Is this really happening? pic.twitter.com/QYOfYv0l9M— The Second Round Cannon (@cbjcannon) April 11, 2019
The Blue Jackets do not know who their second round opponent will be yet, only that it will be the winner of the Boston Bruins vs the Toronto Maple Leafs. As we go to press, the Leafs lead the series 3-2 with game six coming on Sunday night in Toronto.
The Cannon will have detailed breakdowns before the next series regardless of opponent, so stay tuned!
Thanks for joining the bandwagon, and we will see everyone in round two! Let’s go Jackets!