The Blueprint: How the Blue Jackets Can Have a Successful Series Against the Tampa Bay Lightning

By Jacob Nitzberg on August 11, 2020 at 7:05 am
Apr 16, 2019; Columbus, OH, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets center Alexandre Texier (42) celebrates scoring an empty-net goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the third period during game four of the first round of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nationwide Arena.
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Jackets are no strangers to the Lightning.

In one of the most improbable and unlikely results ever, the Blue Jackets swept the high-flying, President's Trophy-winning Lightning last year to notch their first-ever postseason series win. 

However, times have changed. 

The Blue Jackets won't be able to rely on the likes of Artemi Panarin and Matt Duchene to carry them offensively, and Sergei Bobrovsky won't be in net.

With that being the case, how will the Blue Jackets be able to withstand the Lightning's potent offense, while creating some of their own? 

Here are three things the Blue Jackets must do if they want to advance to the next round. 

Get Stellar Goaltending 

One of the biggest reasons that the Blue Jackets were able to take down the Lightning last year was the outstanding play of Bobrovsky throughout the series. With a 2.00 GAA and .932 save percentage, the Russian netminder was tough to solve. 

This year, without Bobrovsky, the Blue Jackets will likely turn to Joonas Korpisalo, who has looked sharp as of late. He turned in two shutouts against the Maple Leafs, and he'll have to bring his "A" game to stifle the Lightning's attack. 

Take Advantage of Power Play Opportunities 

In 2019, the Blue Jackets' power play was humming on all cylinders against the Lightning. They scored five power play goals in four games, and each of the five goals was scored by a different skater, four of which are still on the team. Seth Jones, Alexandre Texier, Matt Duchene, Oliver Bjorkstrand, and Zach Werenski all tallied.

Unfortunately, to say that the Blue Jackets' power play is cold right now would be an understatement. They are 0-19 on their last 19 opportunities over a span of eight games. Against a team like the Lightning, the Blue Jackets will have to flip the script and take advantage of the opportunities they're given.

Stay Disciplined 

During the regular season, the Blue Jackets were the NHL's least penalized team, only allowing 2.41 power plays per game. That level of discipline has to remain if the Blue Jackets are to take down the Lightning, who had the fifth-ranked power play in the NHL this season with Nikita Kucherov (4 PPG, 21 PPA), Steven Stamkos (currently injured), Alex Killorn (8 PPG), Brayden Point (8 PPG), and more.

Against the Maple Leafs in the Qualifying Round, the Blue Jackets allowed 2.6 power plays per game, slightly above their regular season average. They killed 11 out of the 13 power plays they allowed, an 84.6% rate.

If the Blue Jackets are able to get consistent goaltending, capitalize on their power play chances, and maintain their discipline, they'll have a good shot at knocking out the Lightning for a second straight year.