The Columbus Blue Jackets may be brand new to this whole "second round of the playoffs" thing, but one Columbus native isn't, and now Sean Kuraly will look to knock his hometown team out of the playoffs over the four to seven games.
Kuraly, a native of Dublin, Ohio and a former standout at Miami University has been in the Boston Bruins system since 2015. Originally selected in 2011 by the San Jose Sharks and sent to Boston in the Martin Jones trade, Kuraly's development has been impressive.
A former fifth-round pick, Kuraly just finished up his second full NHL season, putting up a career-high 21 points for the Bruins and bringing energy to their bottom six.
While he grew up cheering for the Blue Jackets, Kuraly will now look to sink his childhood team's playoff hopes. He's had plenty of success in similar playoff endeavors over the last two years, owning a lifetime 5-3–8 line in 19 career postseason games. He even has a couple of multi-point playoff games, including his most recent game, the Bruins series-clinching win over Toronto on Tuesday night at TD Garden.
That's some serious skill for a guy that many labeled as a borderline NHLer.
Interestingly, though, he hasn't had much success just yet against the Blue Jackets. In five career games against Columbus, he hasn't registered a point and is -5, but as the Maple Leafs learned, Kuraly can certainly make his mark in big games.
The Blue Jackets have a list of concerns as this series begins, a list that begins with Brad Marchand (he of the 100-point season), the ageless and wicked talented Patrice Bergeron, and a Boston defense that includes dynamic Charlie McAvoy and 42-year-old Zdeno Chara. Kuraly probably doesn't rank near the top of that list, but he proved in the opening round that the Bruins' attack is four lines deep and anyone can strike – just as he did on what was a seemingly-innocent play in Game 7 against Toronto.
Regardless, Kuraly playing the Blue Jackets is a fun, full-circle storyline to what's shaping up to be a tough, intense series between two teams that don't like each other. And you know he'll have plenty of friends and family in the house next week at Nationwide Arena, some of whom may be wearing the enemy colors.