TOP FIVE: Blue Jackets building rivalries
The Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins yesterday, and a thrilling 5-3 win also marked a 3-1 series win over the Jackets’ metropolitan division foes, and last season’s playoff opponents.
The word "rivalry" was mentioned often in discussions of the game – let’s take a look at the top five burgeoning rivalries for the Jackets.
#1 Pittsburgh Penguins:
Ask any Blue Jacket, and they will tell you rivalries are best formed in the playoffs. And the Penguins are the most recent opponents for the Jackets in the postseason.
"Emotions run so high in the playoffs," said Jackets forward Nick Foligno. "You remember those games and the animosity between those teams - there’s whacks, there’s hacks, there’s fights. The emotion makes those games exciting."
Add in a history of Penguins fans infiltrating Nationwide Arena, and the hometown team has become more and more fired up to beat the team from Pittsburgh. This season, the Jackets have a record of 3-1-0 against the Penguins, marking the first time the Jackets have won the series against the Penguins since the 2005-06 season.
As the Jackets sent the Penguins packing yesterday with a loss and a blow to their playoff hopes, Jackets head coach Todd Richards said he "absolutely" took joy in playing the role of spoiler.
Marquee moment: 2014 playoffs, game four. Nick Foligno scores an overtime winner at Nationwide Arena.
#2 Detroit Red Wings:
As opponents in the central division from 2000-2013, Detroit was a team Columbus saw five to eight times a season and Detroit owned the series early. From 2000-08, the Red Wings had a record of 11-26-4-4 over the Jackets.
The 2008-09 season served as the first time the Jackets evened a season series at 3-3, and they then had to once again face their winged-wheel foe in the organization’s first playoff appearance in 2009. A series the Jackets lost 0-4.
But after losing the first seven years of this series, this year’s 3-1-0 record against the Red Wings marks the third year in a row Columbus can claim bragging rights on the season’s matchups.
Marquis moment: As the Jackets worked towards their first ever playoff appearance, Rick Nash scored all three goals, marking his third career hat trick, in a January overtime win over the Red Wings in Nationwide.
#3 Philadelphia Flyers:
The Flyers are a Metropolitan division opponent, and there’s a few familiar faces for both teams that now play on the other side of the ice. The Jackets Vezina-winning goaltender, Sergei Bobrovsky is a former Flyer, as is Scott Hartnell who, in his first season in Columbus has 26 goals and 30 assists.
Meanwhile, former Jackets Jake Voracek, RJ Umberger and Steve Mason now all suit up in the orange and black.
Since Columbus joined the Metro, they’ve soundly beaten the Flyers in both season series, going 3-1-0 in 2013-14, and 4-1-0 this year.
Marquee moment: December 2013. The Jackets had a 3-0 lead at Philadelphia going in to the third period. And then the Flyers scored five goals in what would end as a 5-4 Philadelphia win. Two days later, Columbus played host and gave the Flyers a 6-3 drubbing. The Jackets won all three remaining games against Philadelphia that season.
#4 New York Rangers:
The Rangers rivalry is another born of inter-team transactions and one very big moment. In 2012, the Blue Jackets traded franchise player Rick Nash to the Rangers in exchange for Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon and a first-round draft pick.
Then in 2013, Marian Gaborik joined the Jackets in exchange for Derick Brassard, Derek Dorsett, John Moore and a sixth-round draft pick.
That set the stage for March 2014 and Nash’s first return to Nationwide Arena in another team’s jersey. There was a tribute video, and some cheering, but that all went by the way side after Nash shoved Bobrovsky and later, Matt Calvert challenged Nash, later calling him "gutless."
While Gaborik, Moore and Dorsett are all now with other teams, emotions continue to run high when these two teams meet on the ice. The Jackets currently hold a franchise record of 9-8-1-1 against the Rangers and will meet for the final time Monday in Madison Square Garden.
Marquee moment: March, 2014. After a Nash goal was waived off, Bobrovsky swats away Nash’s stick. Nash shoves the goaltender back and every Jacket on the ice tackles Nash. The perceived heel turn was complete.
#5 Chicago Blackhawks:
The Blackhawks are one of two teams, along with the Los Angeles Kings, who have won the Stanley Cup twice in the past five years. Facing off a team like that can serve as a benchmark for an organization.
Going into this year, the Jackets had not won a season series against Chicago since 2008-09 when they went 3-1-2. They also hadn’t beaten Chicago since February, 2011 although they had come close. In April of 2014, during the Jackets playoff push, at Nationwide Arena, the Blackhawks’ Ben Smith broke many a Columbus heart when he scored the game winner with 3.9 seconds left.
But the pain started to ease this year when Columbus swept the Blackhawks 2-0, including a game that went to a nine-round shoot out.
Chicago is another team that will try to take over home ice advantage, silencing those fans has become a priority for both the Jackets and their fans.
Marquee Moment: In the midst of a December, 2014 run that saw the Jackets win ten of twelve games, Jack Johnson scored the game winner in a nine-round shootout breaking the losing streak against Chicago.