It's the Wings
After dropping the last two games and see the St. Louis Blues slide on by, the Jackets finish in the seventh slot making their first round opponent the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings. After a lackluster end of the season for both teams, look for Detroit to put the screws to the Jackets from the first drop of the puck. Detroit's ability to control the puck can be intimidating, so Columbus must be ready to weather the storm. The star power Detroit throws at opponents is awesome: Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Marian Hossa, Brian Rafalski, Nicklas Lidstrom, Johan Franzen, etc. Though the star list for Columbus is Rick Nash and Steve Mason, that just might be enough.
The most interesting part of this match up is that based on play this season, Columbus has a big edge in goaltending. This season rookie Mason clearly ha splayed better than either Osgood or Conklin. How Mason reacts to the pressure of the playoffs will be crucial to the series outcome. Osgood's experience is a possible ace in the hole. Despite Detroit being the defending champs, there should be no counting out the Blue Jackets because of teh goaltending edge. Not even the most ardent Jackets fan can make the talent case for Columbus over Detroit. However playoff hockey is won with defense and Mason is a game-changer. We'll soon learn if he is a playoff game-changer.
The season series split 3-3. The series will start in Detroit this week. Columbus playoff games... sounds good, if not unfamiliar) to me. Have fun!