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The 2018 Nucks Misconduct Bandwagon Outreach Program. Finding homes for displaced fans... in Columbus, Ohio

Will Thomas Vanek lead the Blue Jackets to the promised land?

NHL: Columbus Blue Jackets at Calgary Flames
Mar 29, 2018; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Columbus Blue Jackets left wing Thomas Vanek (26) skates during the warmup period against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski
Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Another year of playoffs is arriving and the Canucks are not participating again. The organization believes that other teams should have a shot at the title keep interest alive south of the 49th parallel. Since our fans have some extra time to cheer for other teams to win Lord Stanley’s Cup, some of us contributors at NucksMisconduct are going to try and find another place for you to get your fix of winning hockey. We know it sounds weird, actually cheering for another team, but it beats the hell out of sitting around and rehashing arguments about how bad things are for this team’s fans. The playoffs are a time of magic, and you can enjoy the hell out of them, especially without the deep emotional bond of your regular team complicating things. But you shouldn’t just give your loyalty away. We are going to ask members of other SBN hockey blogs why you, a Canuck fan, should cheer for their team during the playoffs.

Check out some of our other fan outreach programs: Tampa Bay Toronto Washington

Today, we turn your attention to our old friends John Tortorella and Thomas Vanek in Columbus. The Blue Jackets have never won a playoff round but arguably have their best team in history. We turn to William Chase from Jackets Cannon to convince you to cheer for a team that’s possibly flying under the radar.

1. With nearly 20 years of existence under their belt, the Columbus Blue Jackets have yet to win a playoff series. Should Canucks fans empathize with that kind of ineptitude, and why will this year be different?

No matter who the opponent will be in the playoffs, the Jackets will have a tough test. However, this is arguably its deepest roster yet and Tortorella can roll four lines with confidence. The emergence of rookie center Pierre-Luc Dubois--top 10 among rookies in points (46) and goals (20)--has been huge. He has four points against the Penguins (1-3) and three points against the Capitals (1-2).

The experience from previous playoff failures resonates with the team and its fanbase and the team is clicking on all cylinders. Sergei Bobrovsky will need to be their best player in the crease and they will continue to rely on the offense of Artemi Panarin who set a franchise record with 80 points in his first season in Central-Ohio. Seth Jones has emerged as a Norris potential with 57 points (16-41) and John Tortorella talks about Jones being their best defender. He also talks about how important Dubois has been centering the first line, and without these elements, the team probably is not where they are.

Columbus is a fun story and one that might not get a lot of national exposure, but they have a lot to offer for these playoffs if they can continue to play into April the way they did through March.

2. It looks like the Blue Jackets are primed to face Sid “the 30-year-old kid” Crosby and the two-time defending Cup champions. Do they stand a chance? How can they beat them?

Sergei Bobrovsky has to be the best player on the ice. His playoff numbers (3-10, 3.63, .887) are not going to cut it. The Penguins are so lethal because they have so much skill-talent and ‘game-breakers’, the type of players Columbus has needed in the past. Hence, the acquisition of Panarin. He is that game-breaker and Tortorella talks about that.

They are quite familiar with Pittsburgh from previous postseasons and of course seeing them four-to-five times a year in the regular season. The Jackets can’t take silly penalties and they have to finish. In the 2017 playoffs they would get off to fast starts but the Penguins can come quick. Columbus will have to withstand the pressure and capitalize on their chances.

3. Now that Thomas Vanek is pulling a Marshawn Lynch by putting the team on his back, can you tell us about his Conn Smythe chances? Also, do you remember Tyler Motte playing for the Blue Jackets at all?

Any player can be that guy for Columbus if they can keep playing the game the right way: Keep grinding and playing to their strengths. Torts emphasizes he wants Vanek to shoot the puck, and when he does he has been finding the back of the net. There’s no real reason to think Vanek couldn’t be one of those important leaders for Columbus. Tortorella has mentioned Vanek is the best on the team at getting to the net and he has been there for tip-ins and rebounds.

I liked Motte a lot, but Vanek has been a steal. Motte had the ability to make nice stretch-passes but he simply was not producing enough, at least at this time. I’m not sure anyone foresaw Vanek being as good as he has been but his presence has been very notable.

Thanks to William for toning down the Vanek-for-Conn Smythe hype, and for reminding us that we got Olli Juolevi instead of Dubois in 2016....

Check out more of his work for Jackets Cannon to further entrench yourself on the Blue Jackets bandwagon.