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|
|TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING|
62–16–4 // 128 points
ROSTER / SCHEDULE
7 P.M. – FRIDAY, APRIL 12
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.
|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.
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
|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|
|72||SERGEI BOBROVSKY||70||JOONAS KORPISALO|
Tampa Bay Lightning Projected Lines
|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|
|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.