|Josh Anderson is rolling.|
I am really happy for the team that they have the President's whatchamacallit to chase. It keeps them playing good hockey as the playoffs approach. Failure to win the President's Trophy could not possibly take away from the pleasure I have had in watching this team succeed they way they have this year. This group has stomped all over the franchise record books in a way that will resonate through years, and that makes me feel really good. This group of players are always going to be remembered as something special, no matter how this all turns out. Because the sledding is about to get tougher.
But before we go there, reflecting on the fact that this team has 100 points in the books, have clinched a playoff spot, and there are still 10 games left in the regular season just blows my mind. And they have a unique opportunity. You can have a very good team, have a very good year, but not be in a position to have a chance to take a run at the President's Trophy. So you want to take full advantage of that opportunity. But the Blackhawks seem to be wanting to make this a four team race, However, we get a crack at them up in Chicago, the same way we get a crack at the Pens, and two more cracks at the Caps. That ought to be some really fun hockey down the stretch.
As far as the playoffs, it seems to me that the match-up with the Penguins is somewhat pre-ordained. We've been staring at it for months now, and it seems inevitable. The bad thing about this playoff set up is that a really good team, one of the Caps, Pens or CBJ is going to lose in the first round. But the hockey will be compelling. And for sure you want home ice advantage if you have any way to get it. So we will see where the chips fall in these next 10 games. But the team seems to have some momentum right now, and that is really good to see. Now is the time when the lessons of The Streak, and the aftermath become the most beneficial. They know what it is like to look toward a big thing, they know what it is like to see it end. The one game at a time mantra that they preach and seem to practice will help them here.
Amazingly, as much as this team has accomplished this year, it still has a lot to prove, and in my opinion the players recognize that. Watching some national outlets go out of their way to take shots at this team because they do not fit the predetermined narrative has been a real surprise for me. I've been stomaching poorly researched, poorly executed, and just plain biased writing from outlets I formerly respected. It is interesting to see that at work. And there has been a little tooth grinding as I had to stomach this stuff. It is quite possible that the Jackets will bow out in the first round. It looks like they are playing the Caps or the Pens in the first round, and both of these squads are formidable opponents. That doesn't mean I am conceding these match-ups, far from it. But the final outcome is certainly in doubt, that's why you play the games. I reiterate. One of three really good Metropolitan Division teams is going to lose in the first round. That's the way these playoffs are structured, and the purpose is to generate steaming hot rivalries. This is precisely what the rivalry geeks wanted, and they are gonna get some dandy games out of it.
But I have to say, I don't fear the outcome of the playoff series. I think our team is poised to acquit itself well, as a fan I plan on leaving it all out there 'on the ice' so to speak, and I don't plan on having any regrets regardless of the outcome. We shall see.
The second season looms. I have never felt better about a Jackets team going into the playoffs. I plan on being one scruffy looking dude before this is all over. Third playoff series in franchise history. Who knows? Could be third times the charm!