Three Things: Tough Loss, But Plenty Of Reason For Optimism

By Ed Francis on August 11, 2020 at 10:10 pm
Joonas Korpisalo faced 88 shots in the series opener.
Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

That was a lot of hockey to come out on the losing end.

All is not lost, though, following the Columbus Blue Jackets five-overtime defeat at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning to open the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. 

Here are three things from the emotional rollercoaster that was Game 1, and how they could turn it into motivation moving forward.


How do you not feel just miserable for Korpisalo? His 85 saves are a modern-era record, regular season or playoffs. He allowed just three goals in over 150 minutes of playoff hockey - and did so against a team that scored more than anyone else during the regular season. Even then, one of those goals - the tying goal in the first minute of the third period - was nothing more than bad luck. 

Despite two shutouts in his first four postseason starts last week, this may have been the best performance of Korpisalo's career, and yet, he picks up the tough loss. A loss that would have come much earlier if not for several fantastic saves with the game tied, including this third period save to keep it knotted at 2: 

With Elvis Merzlikins unfit to play and no word on his return, it seems that this series will be Korpi throughout. If this is the Korpisalo we see the rest of the series, that's a good thing. 


Throughout the qualifying round, Oliver Bjorkstrand was off. Nine shots in five games, no points, a -3 plus/minus rating, and just didn't look like his pre-injury self.

Then, in the final minute of the second period, his laser of a shot beat Andrei Vasilevskiy to give the Jackets a (brief) lead. A huge goal for the team, yes, but a huge goal for his confidence as well.

If the Blue Jackets are to advance beyond this round, they will need production from their leading goal scorer during the regular season. 


That question is not as crazy as it may seem. They may not admit it, but Tampa Bay gave it their best shot to blow the doors of the Blue Jackets in Game 1, and it took four and a half periods of overtime to squeak by. The frustration that carried over from last season showed throughout the game, especially Nikita Kucherov's frustration with Alexandre Texier. 

Let's also not forget the fact that it was the sixth game in ten days for the Blue Jackets. That's a lot of hockey - and a lot more when you consider the amount of overtime played in them. Columbus has played 475 minutes and 49 seconds of hockey in the last ten days; just under eight full games. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay had played just one game (a measly regulation finish) in the last six days. The Lightning were rested, Columbus was not, and it still took a fifth overtime to decide the game. 

Oh, and who knows how this game turns out if a penalty is called here:

A whistle here would have had Tampa Bay playing with four skaters at the time of their game-winner.

But it wasn't, and it's now 1-0 Tampa Bay in the best-of-seven series. What we learned Tuesday is that this series is going to be a dog fight. 

Columbus has plenty of bite left in them. 

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