The Columbus Blue Jackets have made it to the second round. Can you believe it?
The Blue Jackets went down 3-0 in the first period of game one and never looked back en route to sweeping the Tampa Bay Lightning for the first series win in franchise history. The Jackets knocked the Lightning off their game, dominated the neutral zone, and scored timely goals to stifle any momentum the Bolts gained.
For their efforts, the Jackets were rewarded with a week off before they finally learned their second round opponent last night: they will play the Boston Bruins in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Danton Heinen
Artemi Panarin - Pierre-Luc Dubois - Oliver Bjorkstrand
Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron are one of the most dangerous duos in the NHL. Bergeron was a key to the Bruins forcing game seven as he scored two goals in game six including the clinching empty netter. While they were held off the scoresheet in game seven, they combined for 13 points in round one. Columbus’ first line will have to play the Boston top line just as well as they did Tampa’s to have a chance in the second round.
Jake DeBrusk - David Krejci - David Pastrnak
Ryan Dzingel - Matt Duchene - Cam Atkinson
Matt Duchene led Columbus in scoring in the first round. For the Blue Jackets to have a chance against the Bruins, he will not only have to continue to score but to play excellent defense as he likely draws matchups against Boston’s best centers. With Cam Atkinson and Ryan Dzingel on his wings, Duchene will have competent defensive help as well as goal scoring threats to his left and right. This line will have to be the best line in the series for Columbus to win and advance to Eastern Conference Finals.
Marcus Johansson - Charlie Coyle - Karson Kuhlman
Alexandre Texier - Nick Foligno - Josh Anderson
Columbus’ secret weapon line. With playoff revelation Alexandre Texier and brute force Josh Anderson available, this line could win a game by itself at some point in the series, an invaluable resource in a series like this where depth scoring is going to be at a premium. Texier gives the Jackets a true threat every shift and will see power play time. If Columbus beats Boston, this line will have a say on the score sheet.
Joakim Nordstrom - Sean Kuraly - Noel Acciari
Boone Jenner - Riley Nash - Brandon Dubinsky
The fourth line is going to play extremely defensive minutes again. Brandon Dubinsky was trusted with basically every defensive zone faceoff in the Tampa Bay series and there is no reason to suspect that will change going forward. This line will feature heavily late in games and work to close games out and kill defensive zone pressure. Let’s hope they’re up to it again like they were in round one.
This pain in the ass. Brad Marchand, notorious face licker, posted 4-5-9 in the seven game defeat of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Marchand is a proven playoff guy and willing to play to the edge (and occasionally just over it) to win and to get under his opponent’s skin. Columbus cannot fall for his bait and must shut him down at every opportunity.
Cam Atkinson played a valuable role in the first round, but he registered just 2-2-4 as he struggled to find his scoring touch against the Lightning. Often frustrated, Cam cannot afford to have a similar slump in the second round. Cam led the team in goals this season and will have to be an offensive force for Columbus to have a chance against Boston.
The kid. The wunderkind. He’s played two home games and has three career goals. He was the best player on the ice in the team scrimmage on Monday morning. With power play opprtunities and likely minutes missing the top defensive players for the Bruins, Texier must capitalize on his opprtunities when they present themselves. How he performs in this series will go a long way toward explaining how the Jackets fare in the results column.
Charlie Coyle scored the insurance goal in game seven and eventually saw the Bruins through to the second round. Coyle scored three goals in the first round after only scoring two in the regular season (with 26 games played). Columbus cannot afford to give an inch defensively against a deep offensive team like Boston.
Game one is set for Thursday night at 7:00 PM EST. Stay tuned to the Cannon for full coverage!