Are you a casual NHL fan who wants to have some skin in the game in the playoffs, which ranks as arguably the best postseason in sports?
Then do I have a team for you!
Meet the Columbus Blue Jackets, the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference who just demolished the Tampa Bay Lightning — who tied a record for most wins in a season with 62!! — in a jaw-dropping four-game sweep.
If you need to adopt a team, they should be America’s squad (last year, hopefully you jumped on the Vegas Golden Knights bandwagon that I argued for) as the playoffs continue. Here’s why:
1. They went all-in for a playoff run and it’s working so far
Go back to the NHL trade deadline in February: The Jackets had two key free agents who would likely bolt this summer in goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and leading scorer Artemi Panarin. Many pundits thought they’d deal either or both in order to get something back, the conventional thing teams who might not have a championship shot would normally do.
Except the Blue Jackets didn’t do that. They did a complete 180, keeping Bobrovsky and Panarin while also trading for scoring upgrades in forwards Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel, and some blue line depth in Adam McQuaid. It was a short-term risk that may prove to be trouble long-term.
But look at what happened! They pulled off an upset for the ages! Duchene leads the team in the postseason with three goals and seven points, and Bobrovsky was terrific. And who knows how far that will take them?
2. John Tortorella is the head coach
That means we get another series’ worth of fiery pep talks and wild press conferences.
Think this fiery Torts pep talk had anything to do with the @BlueJacketsNHL comeback??? #CBJ pic.twitter.com/gmhAAyVXz1
— FOX Sports Ohio (@FOXSportsOH) April 11, 2019
Never change, Torts pic.twitter.com/ITcoBkcb39
— x-Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) April 11, 2019
Also he had beer poured on him and he love it!
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#BlueJackets fans were loving life all night long
A post shared by TSN (@tsn_official) on Apr 16, 2019 at 8:53pm PDT
3. They celebrate goals with an extremely loud cannon
The guy by the #CBJ Cannon is awesome! Come on Blue Jackets! Couple more minutes! pic.twitter.com/Q6QYvH6uzI
— Sonny Doney (@SonnyDoney97) February 13, 2019
You don’t think that’s a little bit intimidating for opponents? It’s also good comic relief, like when it scared Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau or the Blue Jackets’ brass had to prepare for it going off:
Funny shot of the Blue Jackets managerial staff bracing themselves for the cannon pic.twitter.com/3bdwgMq98D
— neal mchale (@nealmchale) October 31, 2018
4. They know how to have fun
That’s at least according to this Bobrovsky Instagram post:
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А чё, нормально
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Source:: For The Win