The Blue Jackets are officially on the road to the post-season having clinched a playoff spot with Sunday's 4-1 win over New Jersey. For a few guys on the roster, a run for the Stanley Cup is a new experience. One of those is Josh Anderson.
But Anderson is not unfamiliar with championships. While with the London Knights, he was part of two Ontario Hockey League Championship winning teams, and he played for the Memorial Cup during his three years in the Canadian Hockey League.
And of course, Anderson was part of the 2016 AHL Champion Lake Erie Monsters squad along with teammates Oliver Bjorkstrand, Lukas Sedlak, and Joonas Korpisalo.
Now, with the NHL playoffs a certainty, those other post-season experiences become something to draw from.
"In the Calder Cup playoffs, we had that first series against Rockford," Anderson said. "We were up and down in the regular season against them, and they were just a total different team in playoffs, everybody is. It's just exciting."
That doesn't mean that there aren't still new things happening around this Jackets squad for the rookie to experience. Coming to the rink there's a buzz in the air, everyone is talking about the playoffs.
Video: CBJ@NYI: Anderson tucks Foligno's feed past Greiss
"It already feels a little like playoffs right now," Anderson said. "Every team is battling harder and competing harder. The teams we're playing are fighting for their lives to make the playoffs and we really want to get that first place."
Yes, this group of players know where they are in the standings. And they keep tabs on the closest competition. They'll check scores during an off evening, or see how things ended up around the league after the Jackets finish playing.
The Jackets know where everyone falls in the rankings, but it's not something they are carrying into games.
"It's in the back of our minds," Anderson said. "But we want to go out and play like we've been playing and like we know how to play. We've played over 70 games this year that way and we want to use that to our advantage."
Anderson has certainly been doing his part. The young forward has played in ten games since the bye week and has one assist and five goals, including the game winner against Florida.
There's not much else different to do at this point as far as Anderson is concerned. He and the team just want to push as hard as they can and compete hard game in and game out. The Jackets remain focused on the one game at a time approach John Tortorella instilled at the beginning of the season. Having a pace to the team's focus is something Anderson, and his fellow Monster alumni, are familiar with.
Video: Monsters win first-ever Calder Cup championship
Compared to the Jackets' run this year that has them fighting for the top spot in the League, the Monsters had to fight to get into playoff contention before winning it all.
"Last year, our thing was we wanted to win two out of three games every time," Anderson said. "Sometimes we'd win more, we got on a streak of ten games, but we just kept that mindset of two out of three and that's how we rolled."
With the regular season coming to an end, Anderson is awaiting his first opportunity to play in an NHL playoff game. It's something that the 22-year-old is definitely looking forward to.
"I'm sure the NHL playoffs are going to be different than the post season games I've seen," Anderson said. "It's a lot faster already, and there are a lot stronger guys up here. I'm just excited to get a taste of it. I've heard the fans here are unbelievable, that it's a different atmosphere in the playoffs, so I'm definitely excited for that."
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