The race for Lord Stanley's Cup is a lot like another famous race, the Tour de France.
It's uphill at times. It happens in stages, and to wi it, you have to find another gear.
Whether the Columbus Blue Jackets can find that gear, or whether they have it at all, has me very nervous as Game 2 of their NHL playoff series with the Pittsburgh Penguins approaches on Friday night.
CBJ coach John Tortorella has been exhorting his team since the midpoint of the season to ramp up its effort for a time when the goals get tougher and the play gets rougher.
That time is here, and judging from the Jackets' 3-1 loss to the Penguins in Game One on Wednesday, either the Jackets can't find that gear they need or their transmission isn't equipped with overdrive.
If I told you the Blue Jackets would neutralize Pens star Sidney Crosby, that Stanley Cup winning goaltender Matt Murray would get injured in pre-game warmups and not play, and that Pittsburgh defenseman Kris LeTang would miss the entire series, you'd probably feel pretty good about the Jackets' chances.
Well, all that is true.
LeTang is out for the post-season. Crosby didn't score in Game One, and Murray didn't play, and it flat didn't matter after a first period in which Columbus dominated, but couldn't get on the scoreboard.
You knew the Penguins would bring the thunder after the CBJ outshot them 16-3 through the first 20 minutes.
Sure. You knew that.
If only the Blue Jackets had known it, too.
Instead, Pittsburgh scored 75 seconds into the second period, scored again on the power play and added a third goal before the end of the period.
Goodnight, boys. See you on Friday,
A three-goal lead on the Blue Jackets these days is quite sufficient to hold up over the final 20 minutes.
They scored three goals or more only three times in their final 11 games.
Their leading scorer, Cam Atkinson, was a no-show in Game One. While the Penguins can withstand Crosby going missing, the Blue Jackets can't have Atkinson out there in name only.
So, the Jackets now have a day to figure things out. Otherwise, they'll be staring at a 2-0 deficit and a pair of must-win games when the Series returns to Nationwide on Sunday.
Otherwise, their magical season will be over before their playoff beards even become visible.
Are the Browns really going to blow this?
Anything is possible with this bunch of geniuses, but I gotta believe the rumors they won't take Myles Garrett No. 1 overall are related to either trying to juice an offer from another team who wants a quarterback with the top pick or they're sending a message to New England to downsize their demands for Jimmy Garoppolo.
The CEO of United Airlines says his employees will no longer summon airport police to yank ticketed passengers off flights to make room for United employees trying to get to their next job destination.
How long did they have to meet around a conference table to hatch that customer service upgrade?