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Blue Jackets feel postseason run ended too soon

Despite first-round win, Columbus had its sights set on more

by Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider /

It feels like there will come a day when the Blue Jackets will look back fondly on what the team experienced this playoff season. 

Monday night was not yet that night. 

Instead, in the wake of a 3-0 loss to Boston that allowed the Bruins to win their second-round playoff series by a 4-2 margin, all the team could think about was what might have been.  

Video: Foligno gives his thoughts on the loss

Columbus pushed with 39 shots on goal in Game 6 vs. the Bruins but could not beat Tuukka Rask. After the Blue Jackets took a 2-1 lead in the series, Rask took it to another level, the Blue Jackets power play went dormant, posts were hit, and the season came to a close.  

"I think it's our best game of the series," head coach John Tortorella said after Game 6. "We played hard. Rask took off, yeah. He's a big reason (for the result). We had some opportunities but Rask just took off." 

Another area of concern was the team's power play, which was the barometer for success this postseason. The Blue Jackets were 6-0 when scoring a power-play goal and 0-4 when not, including losing the last three games of the series vs. the Bruins when the power play went 0-for-10. 

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"There's your difference in the series," captain Nick Foligno said. "We had our chances, too, and we just didn't bury them." 

Yes, it was the first time the franchise advanced to the second round of the playoffs, and the opening-round sweep of an accomplished Tampa Bay team will resonate for years to come in what it did to ignite a newfound excitement around the franchise. 

The players and coaches acknowledged how important and thrilling that was, but also maintained throughout that, as general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said at the trade deadline, a simple first-round victory was not the goal. 

Being one of the last eight teams in the Stanley Cup Playoffs made the specter of going all the way feel all the more real. Many in the media suggested the winner of the Boston-Columbus series would immediately become the favorite to win the Stanley Cup. 

In the end, that team was Boston, leaving questions about the future hard to answer for the Blue Jackets. 

"I don't even know. I haven't gotten there yet," Foligno said. "I know we're going to come back better from this because there's only that approach you can really take. With everything that's gone on with this team, there's only growth that's going to happen. We're automatically going to become a better team, but there's an understanding that every year, so is every team. 

"We just have to make sure we take this feeling and just try as best we can to remind ourselves of it while we're training and while we're trying to get better and what we're trying to become for next year." 

Foligno then caught himself. 

"I hate talking about next year because it makes you sick right now with everything we've gone through," he added. 

There was, at least, an appreciation for what the 5th Line provided over the past month of playoff hockey. Five raucous crowds filled Nationwide Arena for the home games, and excitement around the team exploded, from fans getting Blue Jackets tattoos to some leaving brooms on Foligno's doorstep after the opening sweep of Tampa Bay. 

"I just say thank you to the fans for the support they gave us for this playoff," goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky said. "It was an unbelievable atmosphere. I think we will remember that all our life. It was fun to play. It was loud. It was great support. It doesn't matter if we were down or up. They were with us and supporting us. It was fun to be part of it." 

Blue Jackets fans would have to agree, but just like the team, they would also feel the run was too short. With the emotions of not reaching the ultimate goal still so raw, thinking about what the team did to further the goals of the franchise is hard to do in the moment. 

"I don't think we were expecting to stop tonight," Savard said. "I think we'll need to think about it." 

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