When I wrote my article after the miraculous comeback in game one, I had absolutely no idea what was about to transpire in the series ahead. I was oh so happy to steal a game in Tampa, but the pessimist in me feared this might be the only good thing the Jackets could accomplish in this series before the Tampa behemoth woke up.
So, I came into game two with lowered expectations. The national pundits kept talking about how game one was a fluke and how Tampa would get it together and assert their dominance. And I believed them because I thought there was no way Tampa would allow themselves to play that poorly again.
Wow. Just wow. As I sit down to write this piece, it’s about an hour after the Blue Jackets pulled off one of the most thrilling and exhilarating comebacks I’ve ever witnessed. I still can’t quite process everything that went down tonight, from the abysmal first period, the turning of the tides in the second, and the Jackets’ fearless effort to complete the comeback in the third. So, let’s unpack the evening’s events, and try and wrap our heads around everything that happened.
In many ways, this game paralleled game one of last year’s playoffs, where the Jackets dug themselves a deficit that they had to dig themselves out of. Sure enough, the Jackets dug in, scored some goals, and tied the game back up and forced overtime. And in overtime, who could forget Panarin’s beauty of a goal to steal game one for Columbus?
After a historic regular-season where they tied the record for wins in a single season (62), the Lightning have established themselves as the favorites to win the Stanley Cup. They have enjoyed a nice stretch of success in the Stamkos era, making the playoffs five of the last six seasons and making four conference finals since 2011, including one appearance in the Cup Finals. However, this year looks like their best opportunity to break through and finally win their first Cup since 2004; in fact, with how good the Lightning are, it may be Cup or bust.
Meanwhile, this is the most successful stretch in Blue Jackets history, having made the postseason for the third consecutive season. However, they have yet to do anything in the playoffs, having only won five playoff games in their 19th year of existence, the only franchise that has yet to win a playoff series. After their well-documented collapse against the Capitals in last year’s playoffs (blowing a 2-0 series lead coming home), the Jackets now look to take down Goliath and win their first series in franchise history, and potentially more.
John Tortorella was the head coach of the Lightning when they won their only Cup back in 2004. Now, as coach of the Blue Jackets, this is the first time he will coach in a playoff series against his former team. Will the Lightning steamroll past their former coach on their quest to cement their legacy as one of the greatest teams of all time? Or, can Tortorella pull something from up his sleeve and lead the Blue Jackets to defeat the behemoth and win their first ever playoff series?
The date was June 23rd, 2017. It was the first day of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft in Chicago, often a day that marks the beginning of teams making moves in preparation for the next season. And that morning, the ball really started rolling with a blockbuster trade: Chicago reacquired Brandon Saad, a key component in their 2013 and 2015 Stanley Cup winning teams, from Columbus in exchange for Artemi Panarin, the 2016 Calder winner for rookie of the year. Continue Reading!