In the days leading up to the Penguins’ first-round playoff series, I didn’t give the Columbus Blue Jackets much chance.
I got some good-natured (?) ribbing from members of the Jackets’ broadcast team, and some media “experts” picked Columbus, including former goaltender Kevin Weekes of the NHL Network.
The only way Columbus wins this series is if Weekes plays goal for the Penguins.
I see this series as a mismatch, and Game 1 did zilch to change my mind.
The Jackets seized a 3-1 lead, and couldn’t hold it. They outhit the Penguins 48-27, but did no damage. They tried to cheap-shot Sidney Crosby – via James Wisniewski’s elbow and Brandon Dubinsky's slew-foot – but it didn’t matter.
The Jackets did just about all they’re capable of doing, and it wasn’t enough.
The Penguins played OK, but only OK. They scored two power-play goals, but allowed a shortie. Crosby’s line was held pointless. They made some grievous errors and took three ill-advised penalties. The Penguins will play better.
Columbus can’t close the gap. If forwards R.J. Umberger and Nick Foligno return for Game 2, it helps. But it won’t be nearly enough. Penguins in five, maybe four.