Embed from Getty Images In what could be one of Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella’s best coaching jobs to date, he somehow managed to rally a Blue Jackets team that had many different distractions this season. From pending free agents to a goalie who struggled for most of the season to find his game. Tortorella held the team together.
The Columbus Blue Jackets are in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs! That is the good news. The bad news, the Tampa Bay Lightning awaits them. The same Lightning team that won 62 regular season games and racked up 128 points. The fourth best numbers seen by an NHL team, ever.
Tampa Bay lost back-to-back games only two time this season. The Lightning were so good they finished the season with a +103 goal differential. One more point the Tampa Bay Lightning were 3-0 verses Columbus this season.
So the real question is do the Blue Jackets have any real shot to slay the beast from the East? Let’s take a look.
The Columbus Blue Jackets absolutely need to steal a win at Tampa. Does not matter what game. They need to win on enemy ice to take home ice advantage away.
Two time Vezina winner Sergei Bobrovsky who’s playoff struggles have been well documented needs to have the series of his life. Bobrovsky played very well coming down the stretch. That needs to carry over into the playoffs.
Last season the Blue Jackets jumped out to a 2-0 series lead over the Washington Capitols. Then they could not stay out of the sin bin. Penalties suffocated the team and Washington took the series. The Blue Jackets must stay out of the penalty box against Tampa or they will fair no better than last year.
Columbus goal scoring was great down the stretch. The Jackets outscored opponents 30-6. They are playing as well as any team right now. They need to keep that momentum up.
If Oliver Bjorkstrand can keep up his scoring the Jackets have something the Lightning do not. Secondary scoring off the bench.
The Blue Jackets defense needs to keep the play in front of them and not allow anything behind them. It will not be easy. But Tampa does not have the team speed Columbus does. I think this series could be closer than many.