Embed from Getty Images It was a dream come true for long suffering fans of the Columbus Blue Jackets. The team swept the might Tampa Bay Lightning in round one of the playoffs. Round two saw the Jackets matched up against the Boston Bruins. The Blue Jackets lost the series.
There is a lot to unpack here. Let’s start with the goalies, Boston’s Tuukka Rask and Blue Jackets Sergei Bobrovsky two heavyweight goal tenders going head to head. Bobrovksy finished the series with a .921 save percentage and should not be catching too much blame, even if he recorded a .901 save percentage over the final three games. Meanwhile, Rask had a vary strong finish to the series, compiling a .948 save percentage over the six games. He had a shutout performance in Game 6 and it should be noted that he deserved a shutout in Game 4 as well .
Boston kept firing the puck at the Columbus until they broke through. Columbus looked lost at times in the offensive end of the ice leading to bad shots and not grabbing enough rebounds to keep pace with the Bruins.
The Columbus Blue Jackets did an excellent job of shutting down Boston’s stars through the first half of the series and it was the biggest reason why Columbus was able to jump out to a 2-1 lead. The series started to shift when Pastrnak scored two huge goals in a pivotal Game 5. Boston’s stars heated up. Columbus’ stars cooled off.
Over the final three games, the Blue Jackets managed just one goal from the collection of Artemi Panarin, Matt Duchene, Cam Atkinson, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Nick Folignoup front. The lone goal came from Panarin in Game 4. The three previous games saw a handful of guys who accounted for five goals and were a big reason why Columbus claimed a series lead.
Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella guaranteed the series was going to go seven games. Boston seemed driven to make the coach eat crow. So once again, Columbus Blue Jackets fans stood and cheered their team after the game six loss.
Perhaps, when fans stop cheering losses, the team will respond with more wins.
Embed from Getty Images Having surprised the Tampa Bay Lightning in four games, the Columbus Blue Jackets sat, skated and practiced while waiting for their next opponent. The Blue Jackets are well rested and have healed up for the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs round 2.
The Columbus Blue Jackets will begin their quest for Lord Stanley’s Cup Thursday in Boston. A place that has not always been kind to Columbus. That does not matter now, in the playoffs everything is out the window.
What to look for, Boston is an older team who plays physical. They are nowhere as fast as the young Blue Jackets. Boston likes to get scoring from the sides unlike the Tampa Bay Lightning who likes to work the puck down low for shots.
The Blue Jackets need to enter this series with a “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mindset. The Blue Jackets have one of the best defensive units in the NHL, it gets better added to the roster is Vladislav Gavrikov, a Russian defensemen the Blue Jackets drafted in 2015. Gavrikov elected to play in the KHL and not the AHL. Given the tougher league the Jackets were happy to allow him to play there.
Why is Vladislav Gavriko in Columbus? His KHL contract was up, at 23 years old he has fully developed and projects as a top line defensemen. In short this means the Columbus Blue Jackets will have a shutdown top line defensive player most likely on the third line. Breaking news, that is excellent for the Blue Jackets.
Columbus, needs to keep their sticks on the ice and take away passing lanes just as they did against the Lightning. They need to use their team speed to frustrate Boston, while staying out of the penalty box. If they do, this could be another quick series for the more talented Blue Jackets.
Stanley Cup Playoff hockey, there is nothing like it. Turne in Thursday night for game 1.
Embed from Getty Images Overwhelming favorites to win the Stanley Cup, the Tampa Bay Lightning look completely lost and over matched against the Columbus Blue Jackets. How did this happen? A closer looks shows us what has happened.
The Tampa Bay Lightning winners of 62 regular season games and 128 points in route to the Presidents Trophy, were heavily favored over the Blue Jackets. However, the Columbus Blue Jackets have shown they should not be treated lightly.
Game one of the playoffs saw the Lightning jump out to a 3-0 lead. Then the bottom dropped out. The Blue Jackets stunned Tampa and came back and won. Game two saw Columbus put the pedal to the metal and cruse to a 5-1 win and a 2-0 series lead.
David vs Goliath, Buster Douglas vs Mike Tyson pick your analogy. Columbus fought and barley made the playoffs. That does not matter. Tampa has looked like the 8th seed.
The Lightning star players have gone silent. Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point finished the season with 40 goals each and a combined 318 points! Through two games they have zero goals and zero assists. Kutcherov and Point are -2 and Stamkos is -3. No hockey fan or writer saw that coming.
Heading back to Columbus, Kucherov has been suspended 1 game for a bad hit to the Blue Jackets, Markus Nutivaara. Dealing the Stanley Cup favorites what could be a death blow.
Another reason Columbus has taken control is they have been more physical than Tampa Bay. Blue Jackets defenders have punished Lightning offensive players. Columbus has been dominant on the forecheck knocking the Lightning off their game.
Sergei Bobrovsky has been unreal. After a shaky start to game one. Bobrovsky has looked like the two time Vezina Trophy winner. Since giving up 3 game one goals, Sergei Bobrovsky has stopped 40 of 41 shots. Proving his elite status and when he is on Bob is a game-changer.
What has set Columbus apart is they are getting scoring from all over the place. Tampa Bay has had no answers for the speed Columbus has. It has been a full Blue Jackets effort.
The Lightning had the top ranked power play and penalty kill during the regular season. Yet, Columbus is 3 for 6 with a man advantage and are a perfect 5 for 5 on the penalty kill.
The Lightning are in trouble leading head coach Jon Cooper to say his team is in “a five-alarm fire.”