Weekly Reader: Knock knock.
Reader: Who’s there?
Weekly Reader: Orange.
Reader: Orange who?
Weekly Reader: Orange you glad this isn’t going to be another mopey, loathesome article about how my team isn’t in the playoffs?
I’ve decided to deviate from the past few weeks’ lust after teams that are actually in the post-season. Some of you may be glad to see I’ve ceased piggishly using the picture of the pantsless beauty in the Canucks jersey. Still others may be reaching for the “close” button, realizing your one reason for viewing my articles has gone missing.
Today we’ll begin a short series recapping happier times for Columbus Blue Jackets hockey, the 2009 Stanley Cup playoff run. And what a glorious time it was, eh Jacket fans? Rookie Steve Mason had been playing with veteran poise, shutting down opponents and playing an insanely high proportion of the time. Captain Rick Nash, though, had by now become the local hero….and it was the captain who would shine on the day the franchise secured its first playoff berth.
Part I: Getting In
Back in April 2009, Rick Nash’s goal in the closing minutes in Chicago became the biggest tally in franchise history. It’s our one “where were you when?” moment. I, for one, was high-fiving strangers at a local bar, the UA Pub. This was during the Fox Sports Ohio / Directv conspiracy to keep the Jackets off my television during the most crucial stretch of any season before or since; and worse, it was so the Reds and Cavaliers could both be shown on the two available FSOH Directv channels. My threats to take my programming elsewhere in outrage were promptly ignored and called-out when the Directv representative informed me that buying out my contract would cost around [Dr. Evil voice] “one miiillion dollars.” So I left the comforts of home for the comforts of watching hockey with a crowd….even though half of the patrons were seemingly unaware the city had procured an NHL hockey franchise.
The Jackets battled back from an early 0-2 deficit, tying the game thanks to second-period goals by Antoine Vermette and Jason Williams. When Martin Havlat put Chicago back up by one before the end of the second, that’s how the score would remain until 5:30 left in the game…
After excellent efforts by Manny Malhotra and Jan Hejda to keep the puck in the offensive zone, Jason Chimera fed a nifty backhand pass to Rick (Mr. Nash, if you’re nasty) to the left of goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin. The Captain crossed in front of the Chicago goal, depositing a nice backhand of his own into the Hawks’ net. The look of elation on Rick Nash’s face after the goal was priceless, as he celebrated by being bear-hugged by Chimera, et al. It was the look of a leader who knew he had just lifted the monkey off the back of his entire franchise. Nash knew, as did we all, that the goal might very well be the one that sent the team into its first playoff appearance…and indeed it was.
The Jackets would of course need to hold off Chicago for what felt like five of the longest minutes in the history of hockey to secure the final point needed to clinch one of the top eight spots in the Western Conference. And since Nash’s goal had only tied the game, it was actually Fedor Tyutin’s shootout score that would become the game-winner. But the win was merely icing on the cake that evening….the big prize was the one we had all waited eight seasons to earn, a chance to battle for Lord Stanley’s Cup.
– As Columbus was securing its first playoff berth in 2009, Chicago was making just their second post-season appearance in 11 years. Next season when the Jackets take the ice in 2011-12 for their 11th season, they’ll be aiming for their second playoff run in those 11 years. Seeing any similarities there? Keep in mind that it would only be one year later in 2010 when the Blackhawks would conclude their season with the Stanley Cup in the Windy City. I’m just saying, it could happen…
– Tune in next time, when we’ll look at the next segment of the Blue Jackets 2009 playoff run. In the meantime, keep coming back to Fire That Cannon often for new stories and content about the CBJ.