By Rick Gethin
The Hockey Writers
“There’s something about experience. In life, when you don’t have it, you think it’s overrated. When you have it, it’s obviously very, very important.” ~ Mike Babcock
The Columbus Blue Jackets are learning what experience will get you. They’ve made a valiant effort in their first playoff appearance, yet “Lady Luck” was not smiling when they drew the defending Stanley Cup Champs as their first round opponent.
In front of a franchise record crowd of 19,219 boisterous fans, the Blue Jackets watched Detroit pull out to a 3-0 advantage in the best of 7 series. History is not on their side, with only two teams ever coming back to win the series after being down by 3-0. The 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs achieved this as did the 1975 New York Islanders.
Once again, the Blue Jackets had some shining moments and some bad breaks. They’ve consistantly gotten better with each game; just not at the pace that Detroit has raised the level of their play. That’s experience for you; there are players who have played together with Detroit longer than Columbus has been a franchise. And getting two goals in three games will not help you win a series, let alone a game. After the game, RJ Umberger addressed being down in the series. From Puck Rakers,
“We’re down 3-0 and we’ve got a lot of things to clean up,” forward R.J. Umberger said. “It’s not over yet. You’ve got to win four games. We still need the first playoff win in franchise history. The crowd here deserves a win. They need to see it. This city needs to see it. . . .
“Crazier things have happened.”
They know what a win will mean to the franchise and to the city. They get it. At this point, what do they have to lose? The series? No one outside of Columbus thought they had a chance. Take care of the little things and the big things will take care of themselves.
Forward RJ Umberger took what is arguably the hit of the series in the 2nd period from Brad Stuart. Said Umberger, “It was a good play. I knew he was coming and I was trying to get my speed up, and he got me. I lost my wind a little bit, but I was fine.” Even Detroit coach Mike Babcock was surprised, “I couldn’t believe he was out there (two shifts later). My God, he got hit. I haven’t seen a hit like that in a long, long time.” At this time Columbus would once again like to thank the Philadelphia Flyers for Umberger, who also has scored the Blue Jackets only goals in the playoffs.
Columbus has Game Four on Thursday evening at home. Ken Hitchcock knows that there is a certain level of discouragement that being down 3-0 will bring to a team. He needs to rally the troops and come out swinging.
“We’re in a sudden-death situation,” Hitchcock said. “And I know what we’re up against. We’re up against a real good team.” By now, even the most ardent homer fan knows this, too.
Carry The Flag.