There are 11 teams in the NHL that have never won the Stanley Cup. One of those teams is the Columbus Blue Jackets. Not only have they never won the Cup, but they’ve also had little postseason success. With that said, the successes they have experienced stick out in the minds of the fans and organization.
With the fourth consecutive postseason appearance approaching, this time against the Toronto Maple Leafs, now is a good time to revisit the franchise’s best playoff moments. The rank of each moment was determined by how significant an accomplishment it was for the organization and how memorable it was for the fans of the franchise.
#5: Blue Jackets Qualify for the First Time
The fifth biggest playoff moment for the Blue Jackets came during 2008-09. After finishing the season with a record of 41-31-10 and 92 points, they qualified for the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the first playoff berth in franchise history. This set a first-round date with the defending champion Detroit Red Wings.
This was a very significant milestone for the team. They finally were able to qualify for the playoffs after eight seasons as a franchise. Even though this series ended with the Blue Jacket being swept, the fact that this was a significant accomplishment and it gave Columbus fans their first taste of playoff hockey, this moment places at five.
#4: Matt Calvert Gives the Blue Jackets Their First Playoff Win
The fourth best playoff moment for the Blue Jackets came in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. They found themselves in a 0-1 series deficit in the first round against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Game 2 became a double-overtime thriller where the Blue Jackets bested the Penguins in their first-ever playoff win.
The scorer of that game-winner was Matt Calvert. The play started when Blue Jackets’ center Brandon Dubinsky got the puck behind the net and quickly gave a strong feed to Cam Atkinson, who got a shot right in front of Pittsburgh’s goaltender, Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury left a rebound on Atkinson’s shot that Calvert collected. The first save was made, but another rebound gave the puck right back to Calvert, and he buried it at the 1:50 mark of 2OT.
A stunned PPG Paints Arena fell silent as the Blue Jackets poured off the bench and swarmed Calvert. This was a significant moment for the franchise. Not only did they capture their first playoff win but also their first playoff series tie. It was also significant for the fans. After 14 years of waiting, they finally got to see their team win a playoff game. Given the significance to the franchise and fans, this moment checks in at four.
#3: Nick Foligno Brings Playoff Win to Nationwide Arena
The third best playoff moment for the Blue Jackets also comes from the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. After their Game 2 loss in Pittsburgh, the Penguins came to Nationwide Arena in Game 3 and reclaimed a series lead, 2-1. However, that lead would be short-lived as the Blue Jackets would reclaim a series tie in Game 4 of the series.
The game was tied with the late-game heroics of Brandon Dubinsky and won in overtime by Nick Foligno. Dubinsky tied the game at three with 22.5 seconds left in regulation after the puck found his stick in front of the Pittsburgh net. He sent the game to overtime and set up Foligno to score what was arguably the biggest goal in franchise history at the time.
Foligno ended up with the puck crossing the neutral zone after the Blue Jackets’ defense broke up a play on the other end of the ice. He skated in and let the puck go from the point. The shot was a routine low wrist shot that found it’s way to the back of the net, under Fleury’s glove after he missed the save.
After the puck went in the crowd roared in one of the loudest celebrations Nationwide Arena has ever heard. As for Foligno, he was celebrating, sliding down the ice past the boards and glass as he was mobbed by a crowd of his fellow Blue Jackets. The series was tied again, 2-2. This was the second playoff win in franchise history and was the first home playoff win. Since it was the first home playoff win and the fans were able to be more a part of it, this moment comes in just over Calvert’s 2OT winner at number 3.
#2: Matt Calvert Gives the Blue Jackets 2-0 Series Lead
Number two on the list occurred in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Once again Blue Jackets’ left-winger Calvert provided the overtime heroics. Riding the momentum of a Game 1 win over the Washington Capitals via an Artemi Panarin overtime game-winner, they were able to repeat that magic in Game 2.
The play developed as Josh Anderson carried the puck into the zone and worked his way around the boards. The puck made its way to Zach Werenski who fired a shot and Washington goaltender, Philipp Grubauer, left a rebound. The puck found its way to Calvert, who had quietly made his way to the front of the net. He made no mistake and buried the game-winner, giving the Blue Jackets a 2-0 series lead.
For the first time in franchise history, they had what seemed like a commanding lead of the series. The fans were excited as well, many thinking their team had the series. While many fans felt disappointed in the end as they ended up on the wrong side of this series, many also felt it was a step in the right direction. Building a 2-0 series lead and the fact that Washington eventually won the Cup, this moment finds it’s way to two.
#1: The Blue Jackets Complete Sweep of Tampa Bay
The number one moment happened in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. After stunning the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning three games in a row, the Blue Jackets found themselves with a chance to sweep. On April 16, 2019, in front of a sold-out Nationwide Arena, they did just that, winning the franchise’s first-ever playoff series win.
After jumping out to a quick 2-0 lead with goals from Alexandre Texier and Pierre-Luc Dubois, the Blue Jackets began to let the Lightning back into the game. Steven Stamkos scored to cut the lead to 2-1, but Seth Jones restored the two-goal lead, 3-1. Tampa Bay then scored two unanswered goals, tying it at three. The score was tied at three until the 18:46 mark of the second period, when Oliver Bjorkstrand scored on a delayed penalty to restore the team’s lead, 4-3.
They never looked back after Bjorkstrand scored his goal. After goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky was able to hold off a Tampa Bay surge, the Blue Jackets were able to end the series. At the 18:07 mark of the third period, Artemi Panarin did what seemed impossible, he scored a goal on the Lightning’s empty net, putting the game and series away. They added two more empty-net goals from Alexandre Texier and Matt Duchene and won by a score of 7-3.
The completion of the sweep of Tampa Bay remains the biggest accomplishment for the team to this day. It was also a record-setting accomplishment, they became the first team to sweep the Presidents’ Trophy-winning team in the first round. The celebration of the series win was spectacular in Columbus. Fans marched down the streets outside the Arena with brooms and chanting “CBJ.” Considering how big of a feat this was for the franchise and the excitement it gave the fans, this is the obvious choice for best playoff moment.
What Moments Could the Future Hold?
The Blue Jackets may not have had much playoff success, but the fans remain loyal and the franchise remains hungry. There’s no doubt that the team has made progress in the last few postseasons. With a healthy team as the play-in round approaches, it is easy to believe that they are a dangerous team and could add to the list of best playoff moments this postseason.
Cody Chalfan is currently a journalism major at the Ohio State University who grew up in Columbus and loves hockey, especially the Blue Jackets. He is disabled, therefore he is a major advocate for the NHL’s Hockey is for Everyone movement. A piece he wrote focusing on the Blue Jackets’ work on expanding the sport into the local special needs community can be found here. Cody can be contacted via Twitter (@cachalfan) direct message for comments, constructive criticism, or story ideas.