As each NHL team is eliminated from the postseason, we'll take a look at why its quest for the Stanley Cup fell short in 2018-19, three keys to its offseason, and impact prospects for 2019-20, concluding by offering a way-too-early prediction for what next season will hold.
What went wrong
Did the Columbus Blue Jackets create a new NHL trend this season? Will we be using saying a team "pulled a Columbus" to describe GMs who decide to go all-in, hoarding their own rentals at the deadline in order to make one splashy run? It sure could happen.
It was mostly effective for the Blue Jackets, who went further than they ever had in franchise history, winning a stunning first-round series against a historically good Tampa Bay Lightning team. Ultimately, though, the Blue Jackets didn't have enough potency to get past the Boston Bruins in the second round.
Columbus stifled Boston early in the series by clogging lanes and blocking shots -- hallmarks of a John Tortorella-coached team in the playoffs. Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky was as locked-in as he's ever been in the playoffs, rewriting his own narrative. But as the second-round series wore on, the Bruins' dynamic top line woke up and became a force that the Blue Jackets were unable to contain. Columbus took too many penalties, which slowed the Blue Jackets' momentum, and they got quality chances, but weren't able to capture their scoring touch.
It was an unceremonious, if appropriate, end to the Blue Jacket tenures of Bobrovsky and Artemi Panarin, two of the most exciting players in franchise history (unless there's a change of heart and one or both return). And it will lead to some major roster reconstruction this summer.