The Columbus Blue Jackets came into the National Hockey League in the 2000-01 season. In the 19 years since, the team has made the playoffs several times, but it has never won a single playoff series, and every year, dedicated Blue Jackets fans have gone home disappointed.
Until now. This year, the Blue Jackets and their fans are off the schneid — and in spectacular fashion, too.
The Blue Jackets made the playoffs on the last weekend of the regular season. As the eighth seed, they had to face the mighty Tampa Bay Lightning, which had tied the NHL record for the number of wins in a season, racked up an absurd number of points, and led the NHL in virtually every statistical category. Tampa Bay was a prohibitive favorite in the series, and no one outside of the hopeful Columbus fan base gave the Blue Jackets much of a chance.
And yet, the CBJ won. And they not only won, they did so in dominant fashion, sweeping the Lightning and capping off their triumph with a 7-3 win last night. The fact that the Blue Jackets beat the Lightning at all is extraordinary — the Lightning were the biggest favorites to lose a playoff series since 2010 — but the fact that the CBJ won in a sweep is historic. Tampa Bay is the first team in the NHL’s expansion era to get swept in the first round of the playoffs after leading the league in points during the regular season. That means the Blue Jackets have done something no team has done in more than 50 years.
I’m thrilled for the Blue Jackets, for their fans who get to savor the taste of a playoff series win, and also for Columbus itself, which will enjoy some of the fun and excitement and craziness as the NHL playoffs move forward and the city’s home team advances. The CBJ will play the winner of the Boston-Toronto series in the next round.
March on, CBJ!