There's a point in every series where things start to shift.
And for the Blue Jackets, who were eliminated in six games by the Boston Bruins earlier this week, they know exactly when that tipping point occurred.
Following a Game 3 win at Nationwide Arena – a game in which Sergei Bobrovsky starred and made 36 saves in a 2-1 decision – the Blue Jackets seemed to be bracing for a push-back from the Bruins. Granted, Boston had been there and done that several times before and was no stranger to facing adversity in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but the Blue Jackets also felt they were prepared to handle it.
The theme? Discipline. In a four-game sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Blue Jackets were nearly flawless in terms of not taking ill-timed or careless penalties. Their penalty killing, when called upon, was really good. But from the start of the second round, Columbus was not that same team. The Bruins applied pressure on the power play and eventually made a big dent when the Blue Jackets came unglued in Game 4.
“I think we lost our discipline. I don't think it was terrible, but I think we lost our discipline," head coach John Tortorella said Wednesday, during his weekly appearance on 97.1 The Fan with Anthony Rothman and Bobby Carpenter. "I think what we can take from Boston as an experienced team – I just don't buy the experience vs. young – but that's a well-seasoned team as far as playoff hockey. I think we can learn a lesson from them in that they never lost their patience.”
The Bruins' top players, namely Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand, were held in check through the first three games. That changed in Game 4 because of special teams, but the lack of discipline took on a different form in Game 5.
Not only were they not opportunistic offensively, the Blue Jackets committed some brutal turnovers in a pivotal swing game in the series. They had battled all the way back from 3-1 down in the third period to tie the game late in regulation, and on the cusp of their third overtime game of the series, the Blue Jackets saw their best player commit one of those big errors.
“Bread turns it over in a very dangerous part of the ice, and they go down and score with a minute and 30 left in that game," Tortorella said of Game 5. We have two great chances to score, but we lose that game. I think we lost a little bit of patience at certain times, but you know what guys? I think we are a much better team in Game 6 than they are.
"It's 22-11 in scoring chances. We can't solve Rask. I just think Rask's game improved each game. In the last three games, he was the best player on the ice. That's a very important position in winning and losing in playoff hockey, that goaltending position.”