Bob Hunter commentary: Blue Jackets, Penguins operative adult dislike for any other
December 13, 2014 - Finding Carter
Time doesn’t mount still for any of us, so it’s not startling that usually 8 months after a Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins vigilant in a energetic first-round playoff series, a landscape looks a lot different.
The Penguins still are atop a Metropolitan Division standings, yet a Blue Jackets have been bumping along during or nearby a bottom of a whole NHL, victimized by a run of injuries that have expel them in a purpose fitting their name, that of a battle-scarred Civil War platoon.
The playoff array matched aged coaching pals Todd Richards and Dan Bylsma, and Bylsma’s Penguins won a series, 4 games to two. But when Pittsburgh mislaid to a New York Rangers in a subsequent round, Bylsma was fired. So final night, Mike Johnston was behind a Penguins’ bench.
Maybe a many manifest disproportion between final deteriorate and final night, besides injuries, was Penguins winger Blake Comeau, who was a Blue Jacket in a playoffs final spring. The Jackets were removing a best of a earthy diversion until late in a second period, when Comeau’s idea tied a measure during 1. It was Comeau’s 10th idea of a deteriorate — he also has 8 assists — as he creates a substantial burst from a Jackets’ third and fourth lines to a Penguins’ tip six.
Not all has changed, however. This diversion was as rival and as chippy as some of those final season. The Blue Jackets seem vigilant on branch this budding adversary into a genuine thing, and if they continue this earthy play, it competence even happen. Fights erupted all over a ice; during one indicate in a initial period, 3 pairs were concurrently exchanging blows, and dual some-more fights pennyless out in a second period.
These teams are operative adult a healthy dislike for any other, and it creates for an interesting evening.
“That’s how a games were behind in a playoff array when we played them, and even behind in a deteriorate before that,” Jackets core Ryan Johansen said. “We started right where we left off. It was a lot of fun.”
Hard feelings usually go so distant in a origination of a rivalry, though. At some indicate we have to win, and final night, a Blue Jackets did, violence a Penguins 4-3 on shootout goals from Cam Atkinson and Johansen, after Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang tied a measure with 10.9 seconds left in regulation.
The Penguins won all 5 regular-season meetings between a clubs before they kick a Jackets in a playoffs.
“Obviously, that’s still in your mind doing those handshakes after diversion 6 and losing here,” Boone Jenner said. “So it’s always in a behind of your mind, and it doesn’t unequivocally go away. So to play them here a initial time this year, and we saw a crowd, it was electric. There was appetite right from a initial puck drop, so it was good.”
Nationwide Arena was packaged with 18,663 bodies. But there were a lot some-more Penguins fans in a building than there were during a playoffs, a pointer that this budding adversary can use a small won-loss equivalence on this end.
Last year’s array was bigger in Columbus than Pittsburgh, apparently — it was usually a second playoff array in group story — and since of their mark in a standings, this one meant some-more to a Blue Jackets. Even yet they were roving a five-game winning streak, they know each detriment creates a lapse outing to a playoffs that most harder.
They played like it, that is an enlivening pointer for their playoff chances and their adversary with a absolute Penguins.
“We’ve been anticipating ways to win, and it’s good to see we were means to do it again tonight,” Johansen said. He paused. “Especially opposite a group we (lost to) in a playoffs final year.”
Bob Hunter is a sports columnist for The Dispatch.