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2019 Playoffs Game 1 Preview: The race to the Cup starts today

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Can the Blue Jackets beat the odds?

Carolina Hurricanes v Tampa Bay Lightning Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Wednesday, April 10, 2019 - 7:00 EST
Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida
TV: USA, Fox Sports Ohio; Radio: 97.1 FM
Opponent’s Blog: Raw Charge

Columbus Blue Jackets (47-31-4, 98 points, 5th Metro, 8th East)

at

Tampa Bay Lightning (62-16-4, 128 points, 1st Atlantic, 1st East)

After an 82 game prologue, the real season starts today. 16 games is all that stands between 16 teams and their chance to hoist the Stanley Cup. Will the Columbus Blue Jackets be that team this year?

No, probably not. But maybe! They play the games for a reason.

If you need to get caught up on our playoff coverage, it can all be found here. We’ll have a breakdown of the goalies at noon today.

Player to Watch

Sergei Bobrovsky

Speaking of goalies, the key to defeating a deep Tampa lineup with three 40 goal scorers is the Vezina Trophy-winning version of Bob showing up. History is not in his favor: his career record against Tampa is 5-5-1 with a .880 save percentage and 3.44 goals against average. In 17 playoff games with Columbus, just once has he allowed fewer than three goals (Game 5 against Pittsburgh in 2014).

The best way for the Jackets to start the series would be Bob keeping a clean sheet long enough to allow his skaters to gain offensive momentum without playing catch-up.

Jackets Notes

Defensemen Ryan Murray and Adam “Randy” McQuaid are both still out with injury ... Rookie Alexandre Texier is slated to make his playoff debut, in just his 10th pro game in North America ... Come on, y’all, just make this series competitive.

The Other Bench

Our colleagues at Raw Charge have a must-read advanced stats preview of the series ... Victor Hedman missed the end of the regular season with an upper body injury, but will play tonight. Former Jacket Anton Stralman is out with a lower body injury ... Nikita Kucherov won the Art Ross Trophy for leading the league in points ... If Tampa wins the Stanley Cup this season, that will make three straight years that the Blue Jackets are eliminated by the eventual champions.

Season Series

10/13/2018 CBJ 2 @ TBL 8
01/08/2019 CBJ 0 @ TBL 4
02/18/2019 TBL 5 @ CBJ 1

04/10/2019 CBJ @ TBL
04/12/2019 CBJ @ TBL
04/14/2019 TBL @ CBJ
04/16/2019 TBL @ CBJ
04/19/2019 CBJ @ TBL (if necessary)
04/21/2019 TBL @ CBJ (if necessary)
04/23/2019 CBJ @ TBL (if necessary)

Stats

Tampa Bay Columbus
3.89 (1) GPG 3.12 (12)
2.70 (7) GAPG 2.82 (11)
28.2% (1) PP% 15.4% (28)
85.0% (1) PK% 85.0% (1)
51.59% (9) EV Corsi % 50.19% (12)
102.0 (3) EV PDO 100.4 (12)
Steven Stamkos, 45 G Leader Cam Atkinson, 41
Nikita Kucherov, 87 A Leader Artemi Panarin, 59
Nikita Kucherov, 128 P Leader Artemi Panarin, 87
Cedric Paquette, 80 PIM Leader Pierre-Luc Dubois, 64
32-7-2 Home / Road 25-14-2
7-3-0 Last 10 7-3-0

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
Artemi Panarin Pierre-Luc Dubois Cam Atkinson
Ryan Dzingel Matt Duchene Josh Anderson
Alexandre Texier Nick Foligno Oliver BJORKSTRAND
Brandon Dubinsky Boone Jenner Riley Nash
Zach Werenski Seth Jones
Markus Nutivaara David Savard
Dean Kukan Scott Harrington
Sergei Bobrovsky
Joonas Korpisalo
Tampa Bay Lightning
Ondrej Palat Steven Stamkos Tyler Johnson
Yanni Gourde Brayden Point Nikita Kucherov
Alex Killorn Anthony Cirelli J.T. Miller
Adam Erne Cedric Paquette Mathieu Joseph
Victor Hedman Dan Girardi
Ryan McDonagh Erik Cernak
Mikhail Sergachev Jan Rutta
Andrei Vasilevskiy
Louis Domingue