The Blue Jackets' season came to an end earlier this week after they fell 3-0 to the Boston Bruins in Game 6 at Nationwide Arena. It's only natural to dig deep and dissect the series in search of what went wrong for Columbus, and on exit day, the players and coaches shared their perspective on the series.
One of Columbus' biggest issues against Boston in Round 2 was straightforward: slow starts, which then saw them trailing for most of the series. It's hard to win when you're chasing.
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The team to score first at Nationwide Arena went on to win the last nine playoff games in that building. This dates back to Game 4 of the 2017 playoffs when the Blue Jackets faced the Penguins. Jack Johnson scored the first goal of that game, in case you were wondering.
Nick Foligno saw his team hit four posts in Game 6, which only added to the frustration.
“You've got to create our own luck, obviously, but it would have been nice to see one of those go in," Foligno said. "I think if one of those goes in, it’s a whole new ballgame. The momentum you create off of just getting one past (Tuukka Rask). We peppered him. It wasn’t for a lack of try or compete on anyone’s part tonight. I thought everyone brought it. It’s just disappointing.”
Putting the puck in the back of the net first could've changed the complexion of the game. The Blue Jackets did not, and as a result, their season is over.
Columbus won a franchise-high six playoff games in 2019. The most heart-rendering of which was the first, when the Blue Jackets erased a 3-0 deficit to defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 at Amalie Arena to spark a historic series sweep.
Despite another come-from-behind victory in Game 2 against Boston, Columbus wasn't able to recover from subpar starts in Games 4, 5, and 6. After Game 3, Boston led for 118 minutes of regulation spanning over the final three contests. That of course, compared to zero seconds for Columbus.
“It is crucial to get the first one. With that being said, we’re a resilient group and it doesn’t really matter," said forward Cam Atkinson. "Obviously, you want to go up first, but we’ve crawled our way back when we’ve been down – and that’s what good teams do.”
The Blue Jackets were resilient at TD Garden, but they didn't make it easy on themselves. During the three games in the Bruins' barn, the Blue Jackets led for only 7:32 (all in Game 1). Essentially, if you multiply that by 12 you'll get to Boston's "lead time" of 90:15. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out.
For a moment, the Blue Jackets felt they'd cracked the code to beat Rask, registering three goals in the final 10 minutes of the third period in Game 5 at TD Garden. But Rask only got better as the series went deeper.
The problem was the "style of hockey" the Jackets utilized didn't yield early results. Boston scored first in five of six games. Of course the power play struggles and the superb overall performance from Rask entered the equation, but digging an early hole on a regular basis was a constant problem lacking a resolution.