WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 15: Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky #72 of the Columbus Blue Jackets deflects a shot next to teammate Markus Nutivaara #65 during the Blue Jackets 5-4 overtime win against the Washington Capitals during Game Two of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Capital One Arena on April 15, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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When a franchise makes the Stanley Cup Playoffs, there is a lot of pressure on the team to advance. When that franchise has never made it out of the first round, the pressure builds a little more. When that same franchise is making the playoffs for consecutive seasons, and the third time in five years, the pressure is tremendous. When that team steals the first two games on the road, the pressure is intensified.

The Pressure From Within

The most pressure is coming from the fans and organization wanting to take the next step. The Blue Jackets have heard something along the lines of “They’re a good, young team. They need just give it time they will find a way,” for the past couple years. While the Blue Jackets are still fairly young, they are now somewhat experienced. The experience of Columbus in the postseason has not been all that great, but it is still experience that is valuable to have in the postseason.

The Blue Jackets also believe this is a better team than in recent seasons. The addition of Artemi Panarin in the offseason gave Columbus an elite scorer they were missing in the past. All three trade deadline acquisitions of Thomas Vanek, Mark Letestu, and Ian Cole have also brought something special to this team. With these pickups, the team feels like they have what it takes to make a deep playoff run.

The view the league has on the Blue Jackets puts a lot of pressure on the team to win this playoff series against the Washington Capitals. If the Blue Jackets want to be taken as serious contenders around the league, they have to show up when the big stage calls. The Blue Jackets have won just three games in their previous three Stanley Cup Playoff appearances. Out of the three, the 2014 Pittsburgh Penguins series the only one that can be considered close.  The Penguins won that series in six games, 5 out of those 6 ended in a score of 4-3. Columbus has to win this series to be looked around the league as a team that can compete in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

A player who is facing a lot of pressure is goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. Bobrovksy is a two-time Vezina Trophy winner and has been great in every regular season. When it comes time for the postseason, Bobrovsky does not tend to fare well. In his 15 playoff starts, Bobrovksy has a record of 5-10, including the 5-4 win in overtime against the Capitals on Sunday. His GAA and save percentage are not pretty either with a 3.57 and a .888.

Bobrovsky looks like a lock to get into the Hall of Fame, but the only thing holding him back is how he has played in the playoffs. Since coming to Columbus, he is fifth in the league (compared to goalies that have played 82 games or more) in wins (176) and is tied for third in save percentage (.922). Bobrovsky is also in the top ten in GAA (2.78) and shutouts (24).

If Bobrovsky can carry his play in the regular season over to the postseason, he will be a lock for the Hall of Fame very soon. That has to start with the series against the Capitals though. The amount of pull this series will have on Bobrovsky’s legacy puts a lot of pressure on him to break his postseason habits this year

What’s Next for Columbus

There is a lot of pressure on Columbus to win this series, coming from different places. The fans, organization and the league all have put pressure on the Blue Jackets to take the next step this postseason. While the team as a whole is under pressure, Sergei Bobrovksy is under a lot of pressure as well. How the Blue Jackets will respond to the pressure is something no one will know until the second round of the playoffs start.

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