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Blue Jackets excited for playoff series win, but...

Columbus has sights set on more after finishing off Tampa Bay

by Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider /

There's little doubt Tuesday night was a historic one in Nationwide Arena, and the Columbus Blue Jackets celebrated along with their fans after finishing off the first-round sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

It was a series win almost two decades in the making, and the Blue Jackets certainly enjoyed it. 

However, there was one word players and head coach John Tortorella used quite often in the aftermath of the victory. 


"I am thrilled for not only the people that have followed the team but also the people in the organization here too," Tortorella said. "But just remember, it's one round, and we're thinking about other things as we go here." 

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"We're thrilled for the city and the fans to experience this with them," captain Nick Foligno said, "but we know the job is not done." 

That's right. For as much as the moment meant for Columbus to win a playoff series for the first time in franchise history, the team has much bigger accomplishments in its sights. 

Video: Nick Foligno says the CBJ aren't done yet

After all, the ultimate goal is to lift the Stanley Cup at the end, and it harkens back to something general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said when the Blue Jackets made their moves at the trade deadline. After trading draft picks to bring in such players as Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel, Kekalainen was honest about the team's pursuit of its ultimate goal. 

"I'd like to win four rounds," Kekalainen said. "That's the goal. That's the only reason why any of the 31 teams are in this league, and I don't think anybody is going to be lifting their arms up to win one round of the playoffs and be happy about it, and I don't think we should be either.  

"A first-round victory is not the goal." 

Kekalainen likely couldn't have known how prescient his words would become, but it also shows what the organization has been prepping for after making playoff appearances but losing in the first round in 2009, 2014, 2017 and 2018.  

And this year's challenge was a mountain to climb with the Blue Jackets earning the second wild card and a first-round matchup with a Tampa Bay team that outpaced the rest of the NHL by more than 20 points and tied the league's wins record with 62 in the regular season. 

It took a team effort in what Tortorella called a David-and-Goliath matchup, one reason the victory was so sweet.  

"I think it just gives us confidence in the way that we play," Foligno said. "To have the success that we had and to finish out a good team, it allows us to have that experience going into the next round. This isn't going to get easier, it's going to get harder, and that's exciting. It's a cool challenge and one we're excited for.  

"We're going to enjoy this, we're going to enjoy this with our fans, and then we're going to refocused and get back to work." 

One common theme throughout the last two games was the fan support, with two Nationwide Arena crowds of more than 19,000 fans delivering deafening performances. 

"I think it's great," Savard said. "I think they were here the last two games, and since I've been here they've always been behind us. It's a great feeling to finally get one, but the job is not done. We just have to keep going." 

In other words, enjoy it, fans, and then get ready to get back at it along with the team when round two begins. 

"Just being out in the community, the people have been fantastic since I've been here," Tortorella said. "They have just been fantastic, so I'm really thrilled for them that they get to taste this. But having said that, it's only one round. We just have to enjoy it and then we get back to work." 

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