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Blue Jackets' mantra: 2 wins down, 14 to go

by Craig Merz

COLUMBUS -- Jared Boll remembers the first time the Columbus Blue Jackets made the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2009 in the eighth season of the franchise.

How could he forget? The longest-tenured Blue Jackets forward had not been back until this season.

That first foray five years ago resulted in a four-game loss to the Detroit Red Wings and the excitement was over in eight days.

This postseason has been unlike that short-lived run five years ago.

The Blue Jackets are tied 2-2 with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference First Round best-of-7 seven series with Game 5 on Saturday at Consol Energy Center (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT).

"[2009] was the first time this franchise ever made the playoffs," Boll said. "Obviously it was a goal of ours to make it and we made it.

"This year it's different. We're here now and expect to do good things. We're not satisfied with just making the playoffs."

Forward RJ Umberger, who along with Boll and defenseman Fedor Tyutin are the holdovers from the 2009 team, said he sees a change in attitude with the current group.

"This team expects to win," he said. "We want to win the Stanley Cup."

It hasn't been easy staying focused on that objective outside the dressing room. The media noted and the fans celebrated the opening goal of the series April 16 by Columbus defenseman Jack Johnson to give the Blue Jackets their first lead in the playoffs.

That was followed in Game 2 by their first overtime game then first victory in the postseason when Matt Calvert scored in the second OT.

Columbus on Wednesday played its first playoff overtime in Nationwide Arena, with Game 4 won by Nick Foligno for the Blue Jackets’ first postseason home victory.

Those achievements will amount to little more than footnotes if the Blue Jackets don't defeat the Penguins for their first series win.

Inside the dressing room, a Stanley Cup plaque was recently installed on a brick wall. There are slots for 16 pucks, the number of wins needed to claim the trophy. There are 14 empty holders.

"It's just two wins. It takes 16," coach Todd Richards said.

The message is clear: A successful season is more than playing the favored Penguins even for four games.

Richards said the cultural change from being happy to qualify for the playoffs to being unhappy with anything less than 16 playoff wins began with the acquisition of Johnson from the Los Angeles Kings in a trade for forward Jeff Carter in February 2012.

The season ended with the Blue Jackets holding the worst record in the NHL and at a team meeting to discuss goals for the next season, other players stated they wanted to make the playoffs.

Johnson was the first to stand up and declare that nothing mattered but winning the Stanley Cup.

"All this year it was everybody saying it," Richards said. "Our goal wasn't just to come in and make a splash."

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