Sergei Bobrovsky

And then there were 11: Blue Jackets eliminated


For more entries in this series, click here.

The Columbus Blue Jackets entered this season with the goal of making the playoffs for just the second time in their franchise’s history. When that happened, the question was if they would come away with their first playoff win. They did.

There were times when it looked like they would do more than that. The Blue Jackets managed two come-from-behind victories in the series to make the Penguins sweat. They still have never won a playoff series. That just gives them a new, higher goal for 2014-15.

  • Going into this season, the Blue Jackets’ offense was a concern. Would Nathan Horton be healthy for enough of the season to make a difference? Could Marian Gaborik find his game in Columbus? The answer to both of those questions was largely no, but the Blue Jackets still averaged 2.76 goals per game, up from 2.40 in 2013. Ryan Johansen, 21, was a big reason for that as he broke out with with 33 goals and 63 points in 82 games.
  • It also helped that Columbus finally got a relatively healthy season out of defenseman James Wisniewski, who tied for eighth among NHL blueliners with 51 points in 75 contests.
  • Sergei Bobrovsky struggled early in the campaign after winning the Vezina Trophy in 2013, but bounce back to post a strong 2.38 GAA and .923 save percentage in 58 starts. Columbus seems to have found a netminder that can lead them for years to come.
  • For the most part, Brandon Dubinsky really shined in playoffs, both offensively and defensively. He managed to hold his own against Sidney Crosby at times and ended up with six points in six games.
  • The fact that neither team could hold a lead was a big storyline in the first round series, but it was a problem for Columbus throughout the season. The Blue Jackets went 22-5-3 when leading after one period, which might sound great, but actually put them 20th in the league. They had the 18th best winning percentage when leading after 40 minutes.
  • At the time of elimination, the Blue Jackets led the lead with three shorthanded goals in the playoffs. They scored nine in the regular season.

Tyler Johnson’s injury: One of several ominous signs for Tampa Bay

Carl Gunnarsson, Tyler Johnson
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The gloom only seems to lift from the Tampa Bay Lightning’s cloudy season in small drizzles.

Sure, they’re on a three-game winning streak, but the Washington Capitals seem to be on the verge of ending that with a thud (they’re currently up 3-0 going into the third period).

That’s the least of the Bolts’ concerns right now, really, as Tyler Johnson left Friday’s game seemingly injured.

The word seemingly comes into play because details are scarce, as reporters note.

/ominous music plays

If you look at Tampa Bay’s upcoming schedule, things could get downright stormy.

They face the Islanders at home, but they do so tomorrow so they won’t be well-rested. It gets worse from there.

Dec. 2 – 6: Three-game road trip against the California teams

Dec. 10 – 12: Two home games (one vs. Ottawa, one vs. Washington)

Dec. 14-18: Another three-game road trip

Long story short, they close up a back-to-back set at home tomorrow and then play six of eight on the road.

/even more ominous music

The end of 2015 looks friendlier, but for a team that seems to be cratering here and there … things look a bit morbid.

We’ll see if they can keep fighting, perhaps with a comeback tonight?

The ghost is here: Another OT-winner from Flyers’ Gostisbehere

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Here’s an easy way to remember how to spell Shayne Gostisbehere’s maddening last name (and even his first name can trip you up).

Ghost-is-be-here, without the h.

Not too bad, right?

If you’re more of the slogan type, it’s getting to be the point where “Tough to spell, tougher to stop” may be a pretty good one-liner.

The Philadelphia Flyers phenom has made a habit of scoring overtime game-winning goals on the power play lately. Friday’s version was the decisive tally in a 3-2 OT win against the Nashville Predators, which you can watch up top.

As you can see in comparing that goal with the one below (which made the difference against the Carolina Hurricanes), opposing coaches may want to make it a point to emphasize stopping this setup, even if it means writing “Don’t let that Ghost kid free.”

All three of his goals are on the power play so far.

Will he breathe life back into the Flyers’ man advantage at this rate?

Julien says Lundqvist’s acting ‘doesn’t need to be on the ice’


The goalie interference penalty called on Brad Marchand late in Friday’s Thanksgiving Showdown didn’t sit well with the Bruins.

Marchand, whistled after making contact with New York’s Henrik Lundqvist midway through the third, said he thought “it was a bit of a weak call,” adding “[Lundvqist’s] out of the crease, and he lightly gets touched.”

While Marchand took issue with the call, his head coach took issue with King Henrik.

(In Julien’s defense, Lundqvist does have a pretty lengthy IMDB page.)

The interference penalty was nearly disastrous for the Bruins, as J.T. Miller scored on the ensuing power play to given the Blueshirts a 3-2 edge.

However, Boston replied with a power-play goal of its own — Ryan Spooner, at the 16:14 mark — which set the stage for David Krejci‘s dramatic game-winner with just under two minutes to go.

So, to recap: Today’s game had the Beleskey hit on Stepan, the Marchand-Lundqvist theatrics and a dramatic come-from-behind victory for Boston.

And so, to answer your next question:

These two teams next meet on Monday, Jan. 11, at MSG.

Related: Yep, Alain Vigneault went there — ‘I remember Aaron Rome in this building’

Video: Peluso, Gabriel throw down in spirited heavyweight tilt


The big boys got after it early in Minnesota today.

Wild forward Kurtis Gabriel — all 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds of him — picked one of the toughest opponents in hockey on Friday, throwing down with Jets enforcer Anthony Peluso early in the first period.

And it was a pretty good tilt.

Peluso, one of the league’s most feared fighters, was coming off two pretty heavy scraps — one against Columbus tough guy Jared Boll, and another in which he landed some serious shots on overmatched Canucks d-man Luca Sbisa:

Of course, Gabriel’s no slouch.

He had one previous fight in the NHL this year (against Peluso’s teammate, Chris Thorburn) and five in the American League, where he’s spent the majority of this season.

Given the fisticuffs that occurred earlier in the Bruins-Rangers game, it seem the NHL has really gotten into the spirit of Black Friday.

(All videos courtesy