Archive for April, 2014

A Pleasant Surprise

April 24, 2014

I frankly didn’t expect the Blue Jackets’ second-ever trip to the playoffs to amount to much. In 2009, Columbus was swept by Detroit, and only one of the four games was even close. This year I hoped the Jackets would be able to eek out a win (their first ever in the playoffs) so that at least there would be that accomplishment to celebrate.

Pittsburgh probably lead the league in man-games lost due to injury, but they now have just about everyone healthy. But some Penguins fans I know were not optimistic about their chances, as they did not play well down the stretch.

As I type this, the best-of-seven series is tied at 2 games a piece. Pittsburgh won games 1 and 3, and Columbus won games 2 and 4. All four games ended with a final score of 4-3, and in all four, the LOSING team led 3-1 at one point. Last night, in the Blue Jackets’ win in front of their home fans, the Pens led 3-0 in the first, before being shut out the rest of the way. Game 2 was similar. Pittsburgh exploded for 3 goals in the first, then were shut out in the second period, third period and first overtime period before Matt Calvert scored early in the second overtime for the win. Both teams have gone for long periods of listless play.

So, after last night, I have to revise my original prediction that the Pens would win the series 4 games to 1. Game 2 proves that Columbus can win in Pittsburgh. So, the fact that two of the remaining three games are there may not mean much. Going out on a limb, something tells me that the Pens will right the ship in time to salvage the series. Hopefully I’m wrong. Columbus is playing with a lot of confidence, and are not awed by Pittsburgh. Either way, it’s been a lot of fun, and the playoffs this year have shown that Columbus can be competitive after many years as a “laughing stock”, as one pundit wrote.

 

 

National Runner-Up

April 10, 2014

For some reason I had a sense that I would jinx UK if I posted to my blog during their run to the championship game. So that’s the primary reason why I haven’t posted since March 22. That or some other excuse :-).

After knocking off previously unbeaten Wichita State 78-76, the Cats beat in-state rival Louisville 74-69 to earn a trip to the regional final. There they beat an excellent Michigan team 75-72 which punched Kentucky’s ticket to the Final Four in North Texas.

In the national semifinals, Kentucky edged Wisconsin 74-73 while Connecticut came from behind to beat Florida. Then in the national championship game. Kentucky kept it close in the second half but ended up losing 60-54. The Cats missed 11 free throws while the Huskies were perfect from the line. So an old bugaboo reared its ugly head. Still, Kentucky’s season ended up being a lot better than it appeared toward the end of the regular season.

The Kentucky women took care of Syracuse in Lexington then headed to South Bend to meet Baylor, a team they had beaten 133-130 (4 OT) in Dallas earlier in the season. This meeting was nowhere near as close. The Bears maintained a working margin through most of the game and cruised to the win.

Last night the Blue Jackets qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for only the second time in franchise history. If the season ended today, Columbus would play Pittsburgh in the first round. However with each playoff-bound team having at least two games remaining, it is possible that positions will shift a bit. The Jackets could be paired with the Rangers, and it is still possible that they could move into second place in the Metropolitan division and get the home-ice advantage in the first round.