Someone with more foresight than me can say that this series, despite the outcome, was a successful one for the Blue Jackets. I personally think that calling this a successful series is selling the squad short, and unfortunately we won’t know this year how deep the Blue Jackets can really go into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. I am fighting back tears writing these thoughts down, because I truly, truly believed in the Jackets.
However,I was broken mentally by Evgeni Malkin’s 3rd goal of the game, and I had shut the TV off. I had expected that a lot of the fans in Nationwide Arena would do the same; that anything with a CBJ sweater or logo would come out deflated and and more content with feeling sorry for themselves. They didn’t. I sold the Columbus Blue Jackets short tonight, and I’m going to be struggling with it for a while. Those 3 goals, while not enough to complete the comeback, showed me that the 2013-2014 Columbus Blue Jackets were truly, truly a different team than the 13 others before them.
Regardless of the emotions and the hope, the Blue Jackets still played a very underwhelming 50 minutes of hockey. I won’t get into the gritty details but bad defending and bonehead choices led to bad passing and lots of giveaways. The Penguins dominated the ice for 2 and a half periods. There’s not much more to it than that: the Blue Jackets didn’t show up early and it killed their playoff run.
3rd Star: Matt Niskanen
I didn’t watch enough of the game to really understand why Niskanen is 3rd here, but I’m assuming it’s because they can’t put Evgeni Malkin twice.
2nd Star: Fedor Tyutin
Tyutin’s goal was an amazing play, honestly. He didn’t panic with the puck and took his chance, and nailed the shot on Fleury’s far side. It started the not-quite comeback and awoke the fans…boy, those fans.
1st Star: Evgeni Malkin
I’m still kinda butthurt about a punch Malkin gave to Jack Johnson after his 2nd goal of the game. Other than that, Malkin was just a solid, clean competitor. Dude was flying around the ice and got rewarded with a hat trick in a series clinching game. If I’m Pittsburgh, I’m excited to think that he’s finally found the on button on his game. If Malkin was that explosive every game the Jackets might not have won a single tilt.
Stud: The Fans
It might be cliche to make this the stud, but if anyone’s going to take a shot at the Blue Jackets’ fan base it’s because they’re being trolls and not because they’re talking from experience. The fans. Never. Quit. It’s an amazing thing, and how much of the excitement and passion can be attributed to “first real playoff push” is minimal. Don’t let the pundit hang that on you, Columbus. You came out and you kicked ass, and you know you’re gonna get a chance to do it again next season.
Dud: The 50 Minutes
Not much else can be said about the 50 minutes of play before the Jackets turned it on besides, “What if”. The Jackets were missing in action on the biggest stage imaginable. I was practically becoming sick watching, feeling like I was being stood up at the prom. One can only hope things like inexperience caused the slump and not a perpetual trait to fall apart in big games.
So there it is, the last recap of the season. It sucks. I’m pretty mad still that the Jackets lost tonight; I was greedy after Game 4 and didn’t want it to end. The beauty of this team though is that most of the core should be back next year…Murray, Jenner, Dubinsky…a lot of these names are here for a while and as a Jackets fan that makes me extremely satisfied with the season.
Until next time, friends!
Carry the Flag!