Can the Blue Jackets keep Sidney Crosby off his game?

Brandon Dubinsky

A few thoughts after Night 1 of the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs…

• Columbus defenseman Jack Johnson is a polarizing player.

On the one hand, he’s an offensive defenseman who is capable of hitting or approaching 40-point seasons. He led the Blue Jackets with 24:40 of average ice time this season, which is actually more than a minute less than he was pulling in a season ago. He’s a guy the emerging Blue Jackets lean on, even though he’s their third-highest paid defenseman at $4.357 million against the cap through 2017-18.

On the other, he can be a liability at times. His negative Corsi for relative percentage this season was worse than every Blue Jackets defenseman and second-worst to only R.J. Umberger on the team. The volatility in his game, especially this season, was a reason why he wasn’t included on Team USA’s Olympic roster this time around.

But Johnson is a competitor. And when it comes to the playoffs, he’s a scorer. Read more

Fleury, Price just good enough to win Game 1

Price save

Let’s get one thing out of the way right away. If the four teams in the Eastern Conference play throughout the playoffs the way they did on the first night of the post-season, none of them will be around beyond the second round.

It was a night where all the playoff rules were broken, but also one in a couple of hockey’s age-old axioms held true. The notion that defense and goaltending rule in the playoffs went out the window very early in both the Montreal Canadiens 5-4 overtime win over Tampa Bay and the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. The age-old theory that scoring dries up in the playoffs also made a hasty retreat.

But, hey, it’s the Eastern Conference. If you’re looking for masterpiece games from a defensive standpoint, take your complaints to Dave King. If you seek actual entertainment, intensity and some pretty damn compelling hockey, don’t take your eyeballs off the screen for a second.

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Four most likely sweeps in the first round

(Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images Sport)

As I posted on Twitter Monday, I’m picking two series sweeps in Round 1. But there’s a chance two more go the minimum.

 

Sweeps are killjoys, though, so let’s hope for longer, and therefore much more exciting, series. But the possibility remains that at least one team, or more, will be on the links within a week.

Here are the most likely series sweeps in Round 1:

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Stanley Cup playoff preview: Round 1

Stanley Cup

Welcome to the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs and the beginning of a new format. No longer will teams be seeded from 1-8 in their conference, but instead will have to play out of their division first. Teams are no longer re-seeded after the opening round and will face the other winner in their division in the second round.

THN gets you prepared for the action, which will start Wednesday, April 12. Below is our introduction to each series, insider analysis from CBC’s Kevin Weekes and TSN’s Jeff O’Neill, and THN’s prediction.

And be sure to vote on our poll: Who do you think will win the 2014 Stanley Cup?


EASTERN CONFERENCE

BOSTON BRUINS vs. DETROIT RED WINGS
Introduction: A classic Original Six matchup welcomes the Detroit Red Wings to the East side of the playoff bracket and it won’t be a warm reception. The Bruins are the most complete team in the East and asserted their dominance by going through the East with a 12-4 record last playoff season. But the Wings are also an unfortunate draw for Boston. If any team, no matter its drawbacks, is capable of a shocking upset, it’s the experienced Red Wings machine. Just last season, Detroit upset Anaheim in the first round and took Chicago all the way to Game 7. This season, Gustav Nyquist should be even better for them. Read more

Why your team will not win the 2014 Stanley Cup

Boston Bruins lose Cup

Just like the start of the regular season, any fan with a horse in the race starts the NHL playoffs with a giddy optimism. Even if you don’t believe your team will win it all, you’re surely thinking they can pull off an upset or two.

Well, sorry to break it to you, but you’re wrong. Your team isn’t as good or as complete as you believe it to be. They will not win the Stanley Cup.

And here’s why your favorite team will come up empty this spring:

Anaheim: Because the stats community says you’re doomed to fail. Your team’s 49.8 percent Corsi percentage is second-worst among Western playoff teams, which means you don’t possess the puck enough. You were upset last year and it’s going to happen again. Read more

Eastern playoff teams locked in as Detroit and Columbus clinch

Ryan Kennedy
Sergei-Bobrovsky-CBJ

For the record, it was a Riley Sheahan slapshot that propelled Detroit to an amazing 23rd straight playoff berth. And even though the Red Wings fell 4-3 in a shootout to Pittsburgh, the youngster’s tying goal in the dying minutes was enough to help knock Washington and New Jersey out of the post-season picture.

In another rousing game, Columbus completed the death of the Caps and Devils by ousting Dallas. The Jackets began the game with a 1-0 lead, as this was the carry-over for the previous contest stopped by Rich Peverley‘s cardiac incident. From there, Columbus got a huge break early when a bad bounce deep in the Dallas zone helped Artem Anisimov put the Jackets up 2-0.

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For the first time ever, a player scores from his couch

Brian Costello
Florida Panthers  v Columbus Blue Jackets

When the Columbus Blue Jackets visit the Dallas Stars tonight, Nathan Horton will go down in history as the first player to score in a game in which he didn’t play. In fact, Horton might be sitting on his couch at home in Columbus, 911 miles away, when he gets credit for the game’s opening goal in Texas.

That’s because tonight’s game is a makeup one for the March 10 encounter in which Stars center Rich Peverley collapsed on the bench due to a cardiac event.

Horton scored in the March 10 game for Columbus before it was postponed at the 6:23 mark of the first period. So his tally will go in the books as official and a full 60 minutes will be played tonight. Matt Calvert and James Wisniewski will also be credited with official assists, while the rest of the March 10 game’s statistics such as shots, hits and penalties, will be washed away. Whoever plays in goal for Dallas has no chance for a shutout.

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Revisiting Columbus hero Boone Jenner as a 15-year-old

Ryan Kennedy
Boone-Jenner-CBJ

The Columbus Blue Jackets are scrapping for their playoff lives right now, currently holding down the final wild card spot in the East. But nothing has ever been guaranteed for this franchise, which is why a player such as Boone Jenner is so integral to success. Jenner helped the Jackets to a critical 4-0 win over the New York Islanders yesterday, getting a greasy goal in tight to open the scoring, then dishing to Mark Letestu for another.

The first time I interviewed Jenner, he was 15 years old. You can read the article here. It’s funny how the roots of his gritty, determined play already seemed to be there, even as a youngster.

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