The last time these two teams met in the NHL playoffs, the Lightning were swept in four games by the Blue Jackets just one year ago. Will the Blue Jackets be able to repeat the upset?
1: Tuesday, August 11 at 3 PM
2: Thursday, August 13 at 3 PM
3: Saturday, August 15 at 7:30 PM
4: Monday, August 17 at 3 PM
5: Wednesday, August 19 TBD – If necessary
6: Friday, August 21 TBD – If necessary
7: Saturday, August 22 TBD If necessary
Columbus Series Outlook
Going into this series, the Blue Jackets know that the Lightning will be looking for revenge. The Lightning were highly favored to go deep into the playoffs in 2019 before being swept by the Blue Jackets. A similar effort to game five against the Maple Leafs in the qualifying round is what the Blue Jackets will need.
The Blue Jackets do a great job of clogging up the neutral zone against other team’s tops scorers. They will need to do the same against the Lightning if they are to win this series. The Blue Jackets are also not afraid to play physical.
A plus for the Blue Jackets could be the injury to Victor Hedman. Not having Hedman creates a hole in the Lightning’s defense. There is no timetable for when Hedman will return. The Blue Jackets should try to take advantage of his absence while they can.
During the 2019 sweep over the Lightning, Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo watched from the bench as the team’s backup. Now it is his turn to battle the Lightning. He has already survived the big guns from the Maple Leafs, can he now stop the likes of Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Brayden Point, and Alex Killorn.
Columbus Needs To Find Offense
The Blue Jackets play a very tight defensive game, but they will need to figure out how to get pucks passed Andrei Vasilevsky. Vasilevsky is one of the top goaltenders in the NHL, and if he gets into a groove, it will be tough for the Blue Jackets to score. Nick Foligno, Pierre-Luc Dubois, and Gustav Nyquist will need to lead the charge.
Additional offense from defensemen Seth Jones and Zach Werenski will be needed for the Blue Jackets to advance. They each had a goal and an assist against the Maple Leafs in the qualifying round. They will need to do the same or better against the Lightning.
Everyone will be shocked if the Blue Jackets can upset the Lightning for the second year in a row. That is everyone except the Blue Jackets themselves. They know they are the underdogs and, they thrive on it. If the Blue Jackets can clog the neutral zone and keep the Lightning shooters to the outside, they have a very good chance to win this series.
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