Blue Jackets Battle Detroit Red Wings In First Home Game Of the Playoffs

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For the first time, Nationwide Area tonight will host an NHL playoff game. The Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings play game 3 of their best of seven series. The Red Wings lead 2 games to none, but Jackets fans hope the home ice advantage. WOSU’s Sadie Taylor has the story.

“Welcome to the Blue Hall of Doom, Detroit. This is where your Cup dreams go to die,” says Andy Whitmer. Whitmer describes himself as a religious Blue Jackets fan. He and his wife haven’t missed a home game since the NHL strike in 2005. And he thinks the Jackets are definitely due for a win tonight. “Oh yeah, I mean, at least we’re going to have our fans behind us and – you know, it’s gonna be loud.”

John Arvai is such a die-hard fan that he convinced his wife to move from Cincinnati to Columbus, just to follow the team. He thinks the home ice advantage at Nationwide Arena will make all the difference. “First playoff game at Nationwide Arena. We’re going to see an atmosphere we’ve never seen before. I think it’s really gonna pump the boys up, and they’re going to come and give us a W’,” says Arvai.

The two were among a group of guys enjoying a few beers before the game at the Arena District’s R Bar – the unofficial hang-out for Jackets fans. Co-owner, Danny Capoccia, says that a winning season has boosted his business. “It’s helped us out, and I think it’s really been great for Columbus in general, and for the team and everybody,” says Capoccia. Outside of Nationwide Arena, about fifty fans were lined up for last minute tickets. A lone Red Wings fan stands out from the crowd, wearing a team jacket. The fan, Chris Elting, notes the team’s success last year as the 2008 Stanley Cup Champs. “I think they’ll be able to do it,” says Elting. “Even though they’ve broken even during the regular season against the Blue Jackets, I think they’re playing well for the playoffs again.”

But the Blue Jackets fans still think the first playoff game at Nationwide Arena will mean a win for the Blue Jackets. Fan Gabriel Rostofer: “They are going to win. And the reason I feel confident about that is, if they don’t, it’s going to be a really crappy day.”

Sadie Taylor, WOSU News