The playoffs are here and the Blue Jackets are about to face off against the Penguins in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoff. The two foes are looking for the upper hand. We asked our staff one simple question: who is going to win and why?
I think the Jackets redeem themselves from ’14 playoffs and find a way to beat the reigning champs. I think this series goes 7, and starts and ends physically. Games 1 and 2 are important for the Jackets to come in and play aggressive and throw the Pittsburgh skill off their game. Columbus has the depth to throw around upset the Penguins in Pittsburgh, and if they manage to take one of the first two games and throw the series into a CBJ home-ice advantage they are hella golden.
I think the Jackets take it in 7. The key for me is staying out of the box. The Jackets are going to play that rough and tumble style they have throughout the season, but they need to be careful to not take it too far. They have a reputation going into this and the refs will most certainly try and set the tone early. They be taking dumb penalties and let the Penguins jump out to an early lead.
Bonus Prediction: Jackets win Game 7 3-1. Dubinsky and Hartnell score with Atkinson potting an empty netter.
In my mind, it all comes down to Bob. Or the difference between Bobrovsky and Murray, anyway. For the CBJ, it’ll be hard to match *both* Crosby and Malkin at the same time. For the Penguins, it’ll be hard to match the totality of CBJ forward depth (especially if the Hartnell-Gagner sticks together), and tough to match defensive depth (no Letang for PIT, Werenski returns for CBJ). On paper, they seem to be a close match. I suspect teams will separate based on play in net. If Vezina Bob shows up, the Jackets win. If Murray outperforms his counterpart, the Penguins will continue their title defense. My guess: the series goes seven, and it ends on a fluky bounce goal. Penguins in 7. And I won’t be happy about it.
Mark (Twitter formerly known as @RedditCBJ)
Prediction: CBJ in 7. I think this will come down to how the Jackets play in the first 2 games. If they can steal one in Pittsburgh I think they win the series. If they lose both and don’t look great doing it I imagine they’ll lose in 4 or 5. If they win one of those first 2 I think it’ll give them the confidence they need to push the Pens to 7 and ultimately win the series.