Both the Cleveland Monsters and Columbus Blue Jackets have made the playoffs, with varying forms of success. In 2009, the Blue Jackets made the playoffs against the Detroit Red Wings and the Wings promptly swept them in the first round. Then, in 2014, the Blue Jackets met up with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round and the Penguins eliminated the Jackets in 6 games. In 2017, the Jackets once again qualified for the playoffs but were again eliminated by the Pittsburgh Penguins, this time in five games. Last season, the Blue Jackets met up with the division-winning Washington Capitals and the Jackets went into Washington and took Games 1 and 2, but then dropped the next four to lose the series.
Meanwhile, the Monsters’ first taste of the Calder Cup playoffs came in 2011 against the Manitoba Moose. Unfortunately for the Monsters, the Moose would win that series in seven games, 4-3. The Monsters would not get another crack at the playoffs for five years. At the end of the 2015 season, the Monsters became the AHL affiliate of the Columbus Blue Jackets, meaning that they ended their affiliation with the Colorado Avalanche. In 2016, the Monsters stormed through the Calder Cup playoffs. They swept the Rockford Ice Hogs (Chicago Blackhawks affiliate), took out the Grand Rapids Griffins (Detroit Red Wings affiliate) in six, swept the Ontario Reign (Los Angeles Kings affiliate) in the Western Conference Finals, and finally swept the Hershey Bears (Washington Capitals in the Calder Cup Finals. Click here to view a playlist from UngarToTheMax to view in-game footage from Game 2 against the Griffins and Game 4 against the Bears.
That now brings us to this year, 2019. Both the Monsters and Blue Jackets qualified for the playoffs as Wild Card teams and both teams qualified very close to the end of the season. For the Monsters, it was the last day of the season. The Blue Jackets qualified as the second Wild Card team and were set to face the President’s Trophy winners the Tampa Bay Lightning. If a team wins the President’s Trophy, it means that they had the best record in the league. Meanwhile, the Monsters are going to face the Syracuse Crunch, who just so happen to be the AHL affiliate of the… Tampa Bay Lightning. See where I’m going with this now?
The Monsters have not started their series against the Crunch yet, Game 1 will be Friday at Syracuse, Game 2 will be Saturday at Syracuse and then Game 3 will be Tuesday in Cleveland. Game 4 would be Thursday, if necessary, in Cleveland and Game 5, if necessary, would be next Saturday in Syracuse.
Meanwhile the Blue Jackets and Lightning already finished their first-round series. Game 1 was Wednesday, April 10 at Amalie Arena in Tampa Bay. At the end of the first period, the Lightning held a 3-0 lead, but this did not bother the Jackets as they rallied to beat the Lightning 4-3 taking a 1-0 series lead. Then in Game 2, it was all Columbus as the Jackets defeated the Lightning, 5-1. before the series shifted to Nationwide Arena for Games 3 and 4.
In Game 3, the Lightning was without one of their top point-getters as Nikita Kucherov was suspended after a late hit on Markus Nutivaara in Game 2 in Tampa. The Jackets took full advantage as they defeated the Lightning in Game 3, 3-1. Then in Game 4, the Jackets were not only looking for the sweep but also their first playoff series victory in franchise history. At the end of the 1st period, the Jackets held a 2-1 lead. The 2nd period was nuts as the Jackets scored another goal to open the period. but the Bolts came back to tie the game at three before Oliver Bjorkstrand put in a late goal to give CBJ a 4-3 lead. Columbus didn’t give up the lead after that and they would defeat the Lightning, 7-3, and sweep the series. As a result, the Jackets advanced to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in franchise history! Columbus now awaits the winner of the first-round series between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Boston Bruins. Currently, the Leafs lead the series 2-1.