Game 2 Preview: Blue Jackets Loaded with House Money, Look to Go Up 2–0 on Tampa Bay Lightning

By 1OB Staff on April 12, 2019 at 7:05 am
Seth Jones had the Game 1 winner for the Blue Jackets.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

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The Columbus Blue Jackets meet the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight (7p, FSO/CNBC) for Game 2 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinals series with massive implications for a best-of-seven just one game in.

CBJ 1, TBL 0 • EASTERN CONF QTRS
Pittsburgh
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
62–16–4 // 128 points
ROSTER / SCHEDULE

7 P.M. – FRIDAY, APRIL 12
AMALIE ARENA
TAMPA, FLA.

FOX SPORTS OHIO, CNBC
FOX SPORTS GO, NBC Sports

The Blue Jackets stunned the hockey world in Game 1 Wednesday night, rallying from a 3-0 first period deficit to score four straight and seize home ice in the series.

It wasn't just any comeback. Columbus handed the Lightning – the best team of the salary cap era – their first loss in 106 games that saw them holding a three-goal lead. It was epic in scale and immediately ranks as one of the three biggest wins in franchise history for the Jackets.

Now, the Blue Jackets have a chance to go up 2–0 before heading home for a pair at Nationwide Arena. If you thought the hockey world melted down Wednesday night, just imagine if the Jackets can pull this off.

Columbus is young. Second-youngest roster in the NHL young. There may be temptation in the locker room to think that going home 1–1 perfectly fine, and if you'd floated that before the series, you'd be absolutely right. However, these opportunities – the chance to take a commanding lead on a team many thought was unbeatable, do not come around often. 

If you're Tampa Bay, you need a win tonight. They can point to the Blue Jackets' collapse after going up 2–0 on Washington in last year's playoffs, but this Blue Jacket team is not the same team that folded to the Caps. It's more experienced, better-skilled, and tighter, having endured a tumultuous season that ended with a 7–1 run to make the postseason as the final wild card.

Blue Jackets Lead Series, 1–0
Game Date Result
ONE WEDS, APR. 10, 2019 CBJ 4, TBL 3 // HIGHLIGHTS
TWO FRI, APR. 12, 2019 TBD
THREE SUN, APR. 14, 2019 TBD
FOUR TUES, APR. 16, 2019 TBD

Look for Tampa Bay, who canceled practice yesterday, to come out flying, playing with heightened energy for the first 10 minutes tonight. They're still the most dangerous team in the NHL and they'll have an anxious home crowd into the game from the puck drop. If they do manage to get an early lead, they insist they'll better protect it this time.

“Good thing it's not a best-of-one,” Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said after Game 1. “We'll learn from our mistakes today and make sure we bounce back right.”

Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky and the Blue Jackets defense – primarily Seth Jones, Zach Werenski and David Savard, will be tasked with weathering the storm, keeping Tampa Bay off the scoreboard and gradually taking the crowd out of the game. If they can do that, and get to the 15-minute mark of the first with a tie game – or better yet, a lead – they're going to be thinking about taking two.

Sergei Bobrovsky will need to shine for Columbus in Game 2

Bobrovsky was not great through the first 20 minutes of Game 1, but he might have played his best forty minutes of the season in the second and third periods. He'll need more where that came from tonight. If the Jackets can hold the Lightning's trio of 90+ point players – Nikita Kucherov (128), Steven Stamkos (98) and Brayden Point (92) – scoreless again, they'll take it.

Offensively, the Blue Jackets left Game 1 knowing they can skate – and score – with Tampa Bay. The Lightning obliterated Columbus in the teams' three regular season games, outscoring them 17-3, so having that extra bit of confidence will go a long way tonight.

Columbus Blue Jackets Projected Lines

LW C RW LD RD
9 ARTEMI PANARIN 18 PIERRE-LUC DuBOIS 28 OLIVER BJORKSTRAND 8 ZACH WERENSKI 3 SETH JONES
19 RYAN DZINGEL 95 MATT DUCHENE 13 CAM ATKINSON 65 MARKUS NUTIVAARA 58 DAVID SAVARD
42 ALEXANDRE TEXIER 71 NICK FOLIGNO 77 JOSH ANDERSON 4 SCOTT HARRINGTON 14 DEAN KUKAN
17 BRANDON DUBINSKY 38 BOONE JENNER 20 RILEY NASH  
Goalie Backup
72 SERGEI BOBROVSKY 70 JOONAS KORPISALO

Tampa Bay Lightning Projected Lines

LW C RW LD RD
19 ONDREJ PALAT 91 STEVEN STAMKOS 9 TYLER JOHNSON 77 VICTOR HEDMAN 5 DAN GIRARDI
37 YANNI GOURDE 21 BRAYDEN POINT 86 NIKITA KUCHEROV 27 RYAN McDONAGH 81 ERIK CERNAK
17 ALEX KILLORN 71 ANTHONY CIRELLI 10 J.T. MILLER 98 MIKHAIL SERGACHEV 44 JAN RUTTA
73 ADAM ERNE 13 CEDRIC PAQUETTE 7 MATHIEU JOSEPH  
Goalie Backup
88 ANDREI VASILEVSKIY 70 LOUIS DOMINGUE

Game 2 Storylines

  • Weather the Storm. All the puns, here, but if the Blue Jackets can survive the first 10 to 15 minutes of tonight's game, keeping the Lightning off the scoreboard, or better yet, jumping out to an early lead, Tampa Bay, and its fanbase will start to feel more and more pressure as the game progresses. That pressure can lead to mistakes.
  • Zone Priority. The Blue Jackets need to continue to do the little things that got them here. Playing sound defense in their own zone with active sticks and smart breakouts to catch the Lightning going the other way. When they do turn it over in Tampa's zone, rev up that forecheck and pressure.
  • Blocker High. Columbus' three third period goals all beat Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy blocker side, with Savard and Jones going upstairs for their goals. Clearly the Blue Jackets have seen something on film and will look to continue attacking that corner tonight.
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