Blue Jax Can't Relax: Playoff Seeding Still TBD
The state capital of Ohio is also its largest city.
And it was named after a dubiously famous explorer who hadn't journeyed anywhere it. In fact, he never even realized where he was during or after the voyage that ultimately shot him to prominence
Somehow, it's appropriate that this city should be where the Blue Jackets call home.
When the NHL awarded a franchise to Columbus, it made sense in a statistical way. It actually was larger than either Cleveland or Cincinnati and a two-hour jaunt -- more or less -- from either of them. From a pure numbers point of view, and the fact that someone could pony up the $80million expansion fee at the time, why wouldn't a pro sports league want to set up shop there?
After all, there were no other pro sports based in Columbus. Just ask Urban Meyer. Last month.
But despite the slights and the financial challenge of playing second fiddle to the Ohio State University, the Blue Jackets have soldiered on, and are about to shoot themselves to prominence for only the second time in their history. They've made it to the Stanley Cup playoffs. The question now will be if anyone realizes where they actually are.
The game that clinched their spot had an eerie feeling to it. For starters, the Jax were 1-0 down before the puck dropped:
So even this historic moment was overshadowed by the specter of what caused the game on Mon 10 March to be suspended in the first place:
Peverley, understandably, was done for the season. Not so for the Pittsburgh Penguins' Kris Letang. The top-four d-man returned to action last Wednesday after a 10-week shutdown due to suffering a stroke. Based on the playoff match-up scenarios going into this final weekend of regular season play, it's highly probable that Columbus will be facing the Pens in Round 1.
If so, odds are Letang's incredible comeback will overshadow the Blue Jackets' feat of merely being there. It won't be a hard trump; Pittsburgh is 5-0 against Columbus this season. On the bright side, the Pens would likely assure a strong gate for the games, ironically because it's not that far of a drive from Pittsburgh, either.
If this is the match-up, Jax players still hold out hope that their fans will outnumber those of the Penguins:
Most Columbus residents would probably go with the latter. And to them, the fifth line is who the Buckeyes roll out in the fourth quarter during one of their traditional cupcake non-conference games.
Whatever. The Blue Jackets are on the Stanley Cup ladder. And to them, it's a season-long goal finally realized.