For the second year in a row, the Tampa Bay Lightning will take on the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round of the playoffs. and again...
...they are heavy favourites to win the series, but we all know what happened last year. The most embarrassing sweep probably of all-time in NHL history. That may be a bit of an overreaction but just think Tampa had one of the best seasons all-time, were up 3-0 nothing after the first period, and ended up losing all four-game en route to getting swept.
Now it does get worse. They did not get swept by just any team but by the COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS. Columbus has been in the league for 20 years now and last year against Tampa, in only the fifth time they have ever even made the playoffs they finally won their first playoff series. A franchise known for losing and mismanagement ...cough...Doug Mclean...cough. Gilbert Brule, Alexandre Picard, Nikolai Zherdev, and Pascal Leclaire are just some of his great first-round draft picks, all drafted in the top ten by the way.
This year is much worse.
Tampa by no means had the same regular-season success they had last year but with their trades, free-agent signings and development are a much better team this year. That's where it starts to make things much worse if they lose this year. First off if you lose to a team that is less skilled and overall a worse team they can claim ownership of your team for years to come. Columbus has done this before actually, as back when the Detroit Red Wings were at the top of the standings instead of the bottom they would beat most teams easily. But for some reason every time they played a bottom of the league Columbus team they would lose and this happened for years.
The similarities of this year to last year are starting to get scary too. Hedman coming into the series injured, Stamkos I don't think anyone knows what has been doing, and Columbus, as they showed against the Leafs, can still grind out wins.
The last thing that makes this year much worse if Columbus wins this year again, is lack of overall skill Columbus has this year. It's hard to say if the Blue Jackets are better or worse this year but the loss of Panarin and Duchene leaves them with a lot less skill and goal scoring. This year they have relied even more on grinding and one-goal wins(the announcer will probably bring up their 10000 one-goal wins this year). It sounds like exciting hockey to watch but it is not, just a lot of dumping the puck in clogging the neutral zone.
If Tampa loses this series I will have to retire from hockey.