Columbus Blue Jackets: An underdog with a bite
With the way the NHL playoffs are now formatted, there could be a few those during this year's postseason. This is something that is not only good for the sport as a whole, but it gives teams hope that despite not being better than their opponent during the regular season, they can change that in the postseason.
One team that could end up pulling off an upset in the first round of the postseason this year are the Columbus Blue Jackets. After clinching a playoff spot for only the second time in franchise history with a 3-1 win over the Dallas Stars night, the Blue Jackets have been given an opportunity to do more in the postseason.
Come next week, there is a chance that the Blue Jackets are going to be one of the two wild cards team in the Eastern Conference. If that ends up being the case, they will have a chance to upset either the Boston Bruins or Pittsburgh Penguins.
While it may seem like a tall order, here is why we think the Blue Jackets might be able to pull it off:
A team needs good goaltending in order to get far in the playoffs and the Blue Jackets have that.
In fact, the Blue Jackets have Sergei Bobrovsky, last year's Vezina Trophy winner as the league's top goaltender as well as a netminder who has played very well this season. The man they call "Bob" is 31-20-5 with a 2.39 goals against average, a .922 save percentage and five shutouts.
Night in and night out, Bobrovsky is the reason why the Blue Jackets win and if he can do that in the playoffs, an upset in the first round will not be out of the question.
Young and Talented Offense
The Blue Jackets may have a young offense core, but when it comes down to it, the team can put the puck in the net.
As of this writing, the team is 12th in the league in averaging 2.76 goals per game and it is because of the young talent the club has. Guys like Ryan Johansen (21 years old; 32 goals and 28 assists for 60 points), Brandon Dubinsky (27 years old; 16 goals and 33 assists for 49 points); Nick Foligno (26 years old; 18 goals and 21 assists for 39 points), Artem Anisimov (25 years old; 22 goals and 17 assists for 39 points), and Cam Atkinson (24 years old; 20 goals and 19 assists for 39 points) have all been able to produce this season and all make the Blue Jackets a dangerous offensive hockey club.
These guys may not have the poise of a Sidney Crosby, but they have a lot of speed, talent, and soft hands to put the puck where they want it go. For the Blue Jackets this season, that was in the net (221 goals on the season) and in the playoffs, goals are more than needed to win hockey games when it matters most.
The Right Way
In watching the Blue Jackets this season, one should notice that the team plays the game the right way.
Because of guys like John Davidson (President of Hockey Operations), Jarmo Kekalainen (General Manager), and Todd Richards (Head Coach), this team plays hard on a nightly basis and have become a tough team to beat. The team is good at getting pucks deep, forechecking to create turnovers and generate scoring opportunities, and getting back defensively.
The club is smart on both sides of the puck and come playoff time, that is a good recipe to help a team upset what should be a better hockey club.
Always a Chance
While the team might be able to grab the second or third spot in the Metropolitan Division, the Blue Jackets are more than likely going to be looked at as the underdog in the first round.
With that said, however, the team has all the right elements and players to have success and should they come together and be able to do that, there is no reason why this team could not advance to the second round.