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Blue Jackets vs. Penguins Game #2 Preview -- Applying the Lessons

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The Blue Jackets made a good showing in Game 1, but came up short. Time to take the lessons learned and put them into action, with the goal of earning a split before returning home to the friendly confines of Nationwide Arena.

Justin K. Aller

Columbus Blue Jackets at Pittsburgh Penguins (Pittsburgh Leads Series 1 - 0)

April 19, 2014 - 7:00 pm EDT
Consol Energy Center - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Radio - WBNS 97.1 - TV - Fox Sports Ohio, NBCSN
Opponent's Blog: Pensburgh

The young Blue Jackets adapted well to the crucible of NHL playoff hockey on the road in Game 1.  They showed that they can play with anyone, can find ways to limit the Crosby-Malkin-Kunitz threats and can put some goals on the board. They also learned that they need to control their emotions and channel their energy into the more constructive avenues of game structure and discipline.  They had a lot of adrenaline early, but had crashed by the third.   A more even-handed effort is required tonight.

The Blue Jackets' keys entering this one:

  • Play at 5-on-5.   The Blue Jackets match up well at full strength, and Game 1 showed why you simply cannot afford to let the Penguins get on the power play.  Agitate, and let Pittsburgh take retaliatory penalties.
  • Roll 4 lines.  Jared Boll cannot keep up, which led to less than six minutes of ice time for him, and less than seven for Corey Tropp.  That puts too much pressure on the other three lines, particularly at playoff pace.  With R.J. Umberger returning, a more even distribution of ice time should be possible, enabling a 60 minute forecheck and the ability to counterattack.
  • Manage the defense time.  Nikita Nikitin had only 11:38 of ice time in Game 1.  If Richards does not trust him, then go with Nick Schultz, or bring up some speed.  Otherwise, the defensive ice time needs to be managed more equitably, avoiding third period fatigue.  Pittsburgh banks on that type of thing, and the Blue Jackets need to stay strong and fast for three periods.
  • Win the face-offs.  Once they got the puck, the Blue Jackets showed they could hold on to it, at least in the early going.  However, after dominating the face-off circle in Period 1, they lost badly in the remaining two frames.  Columbus has been successful all season in this stat, and needs to live up to that billing tonight.
  • Persistent Pressure.  With three days rest, it's like a new start.  Skate for 60 minutes, put lots of rubber on Fleury.
  • Smart Hits.  Columbus fell into the "hit it if it moves"mode in Game 1, and that simply doesn't work.   Yes , the physical game is important, but the point of the game is to get the puck and score with it.  That's the first priority.  If you can get the puck with speed and stick, do it.  Be aware of where the puck is.  The empty hit after the puck is long gone just creates chances for the opposition.
  • Top Cop.  Bobrovsky was not bad in Game 1, but he was not great.  The game winner was one he stops 90% of the time.  He's taken the first playoff hit, now time to focus and shut them down.  That lets the boys in front of him be more aggressive, which is precisely what will be needed for a Game Two win.  Smart Aggression.

Go Jackets.

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets 
(regular season: 43-32-7, 93 Points; 4th division, 7th conference)

Boone Jenner Ryan Johansen Jack Skille
Matt Calvert Brandon Dubinsky Cam Atkinson
R.J. Umberger Artem Anisimov Blake Comeau
Derek MacKenzie Mark Letestu Corey Tropp
Fedor Tyutin Jack Johnson
Ryan Murray James Wisniewski
Nikita Nikitin David Savard
Sergei Bobrovsky
Curtis McElhinney

Pittsburgh Penguins
(regular season: 51-24-7, 109 Points; 1st Division, 2nd Conference)

Chris Kunitz Sidney Crosby Brian Gibbons
Jussi Jokinen Evgeni Malkin James Neal
Beau Bennett Brandon Sutter Lee Stempniak
Tanner Glass Joe Vitale Craig Adams

Brooks Orpik Paul Martin
Rob Scuderi Kris Letang
Olli Maatta Matt Niskanen
Marc-Andre Fleury
Jeff Zatkoff

Series Results

04/16/14 - Pittsburgh 4 Columbus 3 
04/19/14 - Columbus at Pittsburgh
04/21/14 - Pittsburgh at Columbus
04/23/14 - Pittsburgh at Columbus
04/26/14 - Columbus at Pittsburgh*
04/28/14 - Pittsburgh at Columbus*
04/30/14 - Columbus at Pittsburgh*
*if necessary

Game 1 Stats

Pittsburgh Columbus
4 Goals 3
32 SOG 34
66.7% (2/3) PP% 25%(1/4)
75.0% (3/4) PK% 33.3% (1/3)
27 Hits 48
12 BS 17
40/71 (56.3%) Faceoffs 31/71 (43.7%)
8 PIM 6
10 Missed Shots 11