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Playoff notebook: Jackets begin preparations for Tampa

Columbus not worried about underdog status going into series

by Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider / BlueJackets.com

The Blue Jackets were back on the ice Monday preparing for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which kicks off Wednesday with a game at Tampa Bay. 

Six players were not on the ice, two of which were expected in defenseman Ryan Murray and fellow blueliner Adam McQuaid. Murray has not played since Feb. 18 -- ironically, against Tampa Bay -- with an upper-body injury, while McQuaid has been out since taking a hit from Andrew Shaw on March 28 vs. Montreal. 

Others not present included goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky and forwards Brandon Dubinsky, Boone Jenner and Ryan Dzingel. Head coach John Tortorella said all three had maintenance days.  

The Blue Jackets also hit the ice Tuesday afternoon in Tampa and are expected to have a morning skate Wednesday before the game at 7 p.m.  

Much of the practice session was spent on fundamental drills before a period of power-play work.  

PLAYOFF HOME: Everything you need to know about the Jackets postseason at BlueJackets.com/Playoffs

French Connection: As a native of suburban Montreal, Pierre-Luc Dubois speaks French. 

As a native of Grenoble, France, well, rookie forward Alexandre Texier also speaks French. 

Of course, there are some subtle differences between the two languages, much as there are between someone who grew up in the United States and someone who grew up in England. 

"He'll say a couple of words sometimes where I start laughing, and then I say a couple of words and he'll say, 'What? What is that?' and start laughing," Dubois said Monday with a laugh. "It's a little different, but he tries to simple it down to where we can understand each other." 

The two share more in common than a mother tongue. They're just two years apart, though their pro careers have unfolded in slightly different ways. The No. 3 overall pick in the 2016 draft, Dubois joined the Blue Jackets at the start of the 2017-18 season and has been impressive, playing all 82 games each of his two seasons and posting 61 points this year to place second on the team. 

Texier, also the CBJ's top pick in a draft as a second-rounder in 2017, spent most of the last two years in Europe playing for Finnish team KalPa. He only came to North America in March, then was called up to Columbus after five goals in seven games with Cleveland of the AHL. He made his debut Friday and scored his first NHL goal Saturday. 

"We've been hanging out," Dubois said. "I met him at development camp two years ago. We both speak French even though it's a little different. We're good friends, and I want to make him comfortable here. I was his age last year so I know how he feels." 

Underdog? What underdog? The hockey world expects Tampa Bay to roll over the Jackets, not because of any particular fault of the Blue Jackets but because of the historic nature of the season the Lightning had. 

The team's 62 wins tied for the most in NHL history, and by a number of measures this team had as successful a regular season as any in the past two decades of hockey. 

Of course, none of that will buy you a postseason win, and the Blue Jackets are living by the message that everything is 0-0 right now. 

"We've been playing really well this last stretch of games," Dubois said, echoing a message he said multiple times to media Monday. "We won seven of eight to finish the season. We feel good about ourselves, and come playoffs, everything starts at zero. There's no bad teams in the NHL, there's no easy games." 

Head coach John Tortorella wouldn't be drawn into any discussion of favorites or underdogs, either. 

"The way we're going to go about it is we are going to prepare the best way that we can the next couple of days, get our minds right, and then play," he said. "We don't worry what is being said one way or another. We are focused on our being, our preparation and play. That's how we're going to go about it." 

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