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Round 2 Game 4 Preview: Jackets look to expand lead over Bruins

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NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Boston Bruins at Columbus Blue Jackets Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday, May 2, 2019 - 7:30 EST
Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio
TV: NBCSN; Radio: 97.1 FM
Opponent’s Blog: Stanley Cup of Chowder

Columbus Blue Jackets (47-31-4, 98 points, 5th Metro, 8th East, defeated Tampa Bay 4-0)

vs.

Boston Bruins (49-24-9, 107 points, 2nd Atlantic, 2nd East, defeated Toronto 4-3)

Columbus leads series 2-1

The atmosphere was electric on Tuesday night in Nationwide Arena, and it should be at least as crazy tonight, as the Blue Jackets have the chance to take a commanding 3-1 lead in the series over the Bruins. Can they keep playing their game, or will Boston even things up? The number one key for me is that the Jackets focus on playing THEIR game. Be fast and keep the puck moving north. Don’t take the bait if Boston keeps playing chippy. The only retaliation should be on the scoreboard.

Player(s) to Watch

Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak

Just as Columbus shut down the Tampa Bay stars of Kucherov, Stamkos, and Point, they have done the same to Boston’s best forwards. In an attempt to get them going, Bruce Cassidy is reuniting all three on the same line. At the risk of jinxing things, here are some numbers courtesy of Aaron Portzline at The Athletic:

Remember how the Blue Jackets stifled Tampa Bay’s best players in the first round? Well, the second round is a long way from over, but Boston’s top players have remained frighteningly quiet in the first three games. Marchand (0-0-0, minus-2, 9 shots, 23:32), Bergeron (0-0-0, minus-1, 11 shots, 21:11) and David Pastrnak (1-0-1, even, 9 shots, 19:44) have had chances but haven’t cashed in. Pastrnak’s goal was a Game 2 deflection off his skate. Those three combined for 260 points during the regular season.

Coming into the series, we knew that Boston’s bottom six could score, but if the Jackets’ defense can continue to stifle that top line, it will be difficult for Boston to win three of the next four games.

Jackets Notes

The Cleveland Monsters lost their series opener to the Toronto Marlies ... The Monsters will be getting some reinforcements with the addition of Trey Fix-Wolansky. He signed an ELC this spring and his WHL season ended on Sunday ... The team announced that they will host a watch party at Nationwide Arena for Game 5 on Saturday night ... Still no word on whether Markus Nutivaara is cleared to return to the lineup ... Riley Nash didn’t practice yesterday, so there was line shuffling (but I expect the lines from Tuesday to hold with no changes):

The Other Bench

Brad Marchand avoided any discipline from the league for his sucker punch on Scott Harrington at the end of Game 3 ... David Backes will return to Boston’s lineup. He has only played in four of the ten games this postseason, and averages less than ten minutes per game. Karson Kuhlman is the scratch to make room for him.

Season Series

03/12/2019 BOS 4 @ CBJ 7
03/16/2019 CBJ 1 @ BOS 2 (OT)
04/02/2019 BOS 6 @ CBJ 2

04/25/2019 CBJ 2 @ BOS 3 (OT)
04/27/2019 CBJ 3 @ BOS 2 (2OT)
04/30/2019 BOS 1 @ CBJ 2
05/02/2019 BOS @ CBJ
05/04/2019 CBJ @ BOS
05/06/2019 BOS @ CBJ (if necessary)
05/08/2019 CBJ @ BOS (if necessary)

Playoff Stats

Boston Columbus
2.90 (6) GPG 3.71 (1)
2.40 (5) GAPG 2.00 (1)
30.8% (2) PP% 38.1% (1)
77.8% (9) PK% 87.5% (4)
52.43% (6) EV Corsi % 43.77% (15)
99.2 (12) EV PDO 102.1 (2)
Charlie Coyle, 5 G Leader Matt Duchene, 5
David Krejci, Brad Marchand, 5 A Leader Seth Jones, 6
Brad Marchand, 9 P Leader Matt Duchene, Artemi Panarin, 9
Zdeno Chara, Charlie McAvoy, Patrice Bergeron, 8 PIM Leader Josh Anderson, 18

Projected Lineups

Columbus Blue Jackets
Artemi Panarin Pierre-Luc Dubois Cam Atkinson
Nick Foligno Matt Duchene Josh Anderson
Brandon Dubinsky Boone Jenner Riley Nash
Ryan Dzingel Alexander Wennberg Oliver BJORKSTRAND
Zach Werenski Seth Jones
Dean Kukan David Savard
Adam Clendening Scott Harrington
Sergei Bobrovsky
Joonas Korpisalo
Boston Bruins
Brad Marchand Patrice Bergeron David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk David Krejci David Backes
Marcus Johansson Charlie Coyle Danton Heinen
Joakim Nordstrom Sean Kuraly Noel Acciari
Zdeno Chara Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug Brandon Carlo
Matt Grzelcyk Connor Clifton
Tuukka Rask
Jaroslav Halak