Jackets' Home Playoff Debut Goes Poorly
Playing a home playoff game for the first time in franchise history, Columbus fared no better than they did in Detroit. They were dominated for long stretches of the game, and now find themselves on the brink of playoff elimination. The Detroit Red Wings scored early and smothered the Blue Jackets 4-1. They now lead the best-of-seven series 3-0. Showing their dominance, the Wings have outscored Columbus 12-2 over the first 180 minutes of hockey. Indeed, this has been quite the one-sided affair, and the first-time playoff team is being made to look as inexperienced as they are.
Tomas Holmstrom and Dan Cleary scored in the first for Detroit, both uncharacteristically weak goals yielded by Columbus star netminder Steve Mason. The home crowd and home team never truly recovered from Mason's early struggles. While he's played well in spurts during this series, Mason has also shown signs of the fatigue that's to be expected from a rookie that played 61 games and practically carried his team to the playoffs.
When Detroit was threatened, Chris Osgood kept coming up huge. The veteran sported some subpar statistics during the regular season, but cranked his game up to the level needed for playoff success. He made some huge saves during the first period, keeping Columbus off the board and the fans out of the game. When Columbus peppered him with 14 shots in the third, Osgood stopped all but one of them.
Thursday night could bring the end to a wonderful season in Columbus. The playoffs haven't been a success for the Jackets, but they surely have been a learning experience. For Detroit, the hope is that this first-round series is simply a stepping stone to a Stanley Cup repeat.
My eyes suggest they're well-positioned to accomplish that goal, but they do still have 13 wins to go.