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My Playoff Debut: There's nothing like postseason hockey

Zach Werenski looks back on his first Stanley Cup Playoffs series

by Zach Werenski @ZachWerenski / BlueJackets.com

My first experience in the Stanley Cup Playoffs was quite the ride. It was cut too short, for me and for the team, but it was everything I ever imagined.

When we pulled up to the arena in Pittsburgh, there were a lot of fans waiting for us to show up. The city was just packed with people wearing Penguins jerseys. From that point on, you could tell it was different. You could tell it was playoff hockey. When I hit the ice, I could feel that intensity. There are ways to prepare for it, but there's no way to understand it until you're out there.

That said, those first two games in Pittsburgh were nothing compared to playing at home. The guys gave it a lot of hype ahead of time and it definitely lived up to it. The energy from our crowd was completely contagious. It was the most fun game I've played to date, despite how it ended for me.

WERENSKI'S RECORD-BREAKING SEASON

I remember the puck hitting my stick and the next thing I knew I was just down. I didn't know what was happening. I couldn't see anything. Once I regained my vision, all I saw was blood. I started to panic and skated off as quickly as I could.

I came back out there, but once I started to have trouble seeing because of all the swelling, I knew I couldn't keep going. I could hurt the team. I could hurt myself.

Sitting for the overtime in Game Three and then Game Four and Five… frankly it sucked. When you aren't playing, you can't control anything that is going on. You can't help. I wasn't even in the arena for Game Five, just at home watching on TV. Just waiting. Actually, I was more nervous watching the guys play in those games than I was playing in my first playoff game.

I know our team fell short of what we hoped to achieve, and there is nothing we can do to change that. That's going to be displayed forever. But I'm already looking forward to next season. I know it's a long way away, but I know we are all excited about getting back to the playoffs and finishing the job.

We had a great year, and our fans were a big part of that. Without their support, I don't know if we would have had the year we had. Especially during the win streak and later in the season. Our fans were right there with us the whole time. I can't say enough about how grateful I am for them.

I had an amazing time this season and I know things will only get better because I know the potential this team has to be better.

Get ready for next season, 5th Line.

-Zach

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