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Friday, April 11, 2014

Why Columbus Blue Jackets Must Finish Strong

The Columbus Blue Jackets have made the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs for only the second time in franchise history. While many see that in itself as an accomplishment, I hope that they will actually win a game this time around, regardless of their opponent.

One of the youngest teams in the league, the Jackets have already been playing playoff hockey. Their wins in back-to-back games against Phoenix and Dallas this week proved they can not only get it done on short rest, but that they don't necessarily need home ice to be successful. Center Ryan Johansen has provided an offensive spark that has the entire league buzzing. And goalie Sergei Bobrovsky seems to have finally regained the form that earned him the Vezina Trophy last season.

But to say the Jackets should be happy just to be in the playoffs is complete nonsense. Unlike the 2008-2009 season, where they had a playoff birth locked up with several games to go, the Jackets had to fight almost tooth and nail to finally earn a spot in this postseason. Should they get swept in the first round, even if their opponent happens to be the Boston Bruins, the effect that could have on team morale could be devastating.

And even if it isn't demoralizing, does that mean I should be happy the CBJ made the playoffs again, only to be swept? Certainly not. This team does have a lot of young talent, but with that comes a bit of inexperience. And I don't necessarily agree you learn more by losing than you do by winning. Because mistakes are made even in victory. But the only way a team learns how to win in the postseason is by getting that first playoff victory.

I am not saying I believe the Jackets will fail to win a playoff game. Yet I think it is our responsibility as fans to let the team know the bar has been raised.

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