Your Columbus Blue Jackets are OFFICIALLY in the playoffs now! After a hard-fought five game series victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs in the qualifying round, the Jackets now advance to face the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. You may remember a little something about the Jackets sweeping those Lightning in the first round last season.
Game 1: Tuesday August 11 at 3 PM
Game 2: Thursday August 13 at 3 PM
Game 3: Saturday August 15 at 7:30 PM
Game 4: Monday August 17 at 3 PM
Game 5 if necessary: Wednesday August 19 TBD
Game 6 if necessary: Friday August 21 TBD
Game 7 if necessary: Saturday August 22 TBD
All games will be televised locally on Fox Sports Ohio. Those afternoon starts are unfortunate for those of us working, but at least manageable for those of us working from home.
To get to this point, the Jackets had to get through the bubble host team Toronto Maple Leafs. The elite skill of Auston Matthews, John Tavares, and Mitch Marner was slowed down both by the relentless Columbus offense - but also by Toronto playing a more defensive game themselves. Both teams struggled to create many high danger chances around the net, especially at 5v5. Aside from a penalty-laden Game 2 in which Columbus found themselves pinned in their own zones, the games were well-paced, back and forth affairs. Three games were shutouts, while two games featured overtime victories after erasing a 3-0 deficit.
Here are our game recaps:
Game 1: Joonas Korpisalo gets a shutout in his first NHL postseason appearance.
Game 2: Toronto responds with a suffocating defensive performance to even the series.
Game 3: Elvis Merzlikins enters in relief of Korpisalo with the Jackets trailing 3-0 in the second period, and a Pierre-Luc Dubois hat trick seals a 4-3 overtime victory.
Game 4: In the back leg of a back-to-back, Columbus blows a 3-0 lead in the final four minutes and falls in OT.
Game 5: The Columbus defense bounces back as Korpisalo gets his second shutout.
The Lafreniere Sweepstakes
At 6 p.m. tonight, a drawing will be held to determine which of the eight teams eliminated in the qualifying round will win the first overall pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. A “placeholder” won the initial lottery back in June.
Here is my preference for the results, from “I’m fine with this team getting Alexis Lafreniere” to “this is deeply unfair.”
- Minnesota - The state of hockey could use a star player.
- Winnipeg - The placeholder pick which won was Winnipeg’s spot in the standings. So this would be good karma.
- Nashville - If you thought the Jackets offense had problems, only ONE Predator scored over 20 goals this season (Filip Forsberg).
- Florida - I don’t want them to have nice things, but their problem is defense so adding another good forward doesn’t really help them.
- NY Rangers - See above, though at least the Rags have promising goaltending.
- Toronto - See both above, but the last thing I want is to help Toronto by giving them a good player on a cheap entry level contract. On the plus side, it would increase the chances they trade one of their top forwards (Marner or Nylander?) for a defensive upgrade.
- Edmonton - Does this team REALLY need to win any more draft lotteries? Come on.
- Pittsburgh - I don’t have to explain this, do I?
Which team do you want to win the #1 pick?
This poll is closed
This week in schadenfreude
Both host cities, Toronto and Edmonton, lost in the qualifying round. So much for home ice advantage.
Artemi Panarin, Sergei Bobrovsky, and Matt Duchene chose to sign elsewhere last summer rather than remain part of what was being built in Columbus. Each of their new teams finished below Columbus in the standings when play was suspended in March, and each were eliminated in the qualifying round.
More from The Cannon
Our old friend Fletcher returned with a fanpost reminding us that none of us are the reason the Blue Jackets blew it on Friday night.
A fanpost from Neil B. examines the declining play from Alexander Wennberg, and proposes a solution to getting rid of his contract.
Zach Werenski found out about our “Loose Cannon” t-shirt and he agreed to partner with Breaking T to make more shirts with his name and image. Get yours today!
After the woeful offensive performance in Game 2, I was inspired to write a musical tribute.
We recorded the Cannon Cast the day after Game 1, and rejoiced in the victory.