We’ve learned a lot about these Columbus Blue Jackets as their foray into the Stanley Cup Playoffs has worn on.
They’ve proven resilient and relentless, with solid goaltending and no-quit attitude that’s served them more than well. And most of those traits have become trends as they navigate their way through Round 2 against the Boston Bruins, a series they now lead 2-1 after a 2-1 win in Game 3 of the best-of-seven series on Tuesday night.
It’s all noticeable in the on-ice product. Columbus grinds teams down and takes advantage of its opportunities. But perhaps it’s what you can’t see over the first two rounds of the playoffs that has been the most eye-opening.
A quick glance at the scoresheet through three games sees some odd exclusions.
Brad Marchand, for instance, is a 100-point player in the regular season that has no points in the series’ three games. Patrice Bergeron, a point-per-game player, has laid the same goose egg. And gifted goal-scorer David Pastrnak has a single goal, one that came off his skate rather than his stick.
[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]
A blueprint to exclude the big stars on Boston’s bench from being posted on the scoreboard has worked incredibly well, just as it did in Round 1.=
The Tampa Bay Lightning had three 40 goals scorers, including a player named Nikita Kucherov who led the NHL in points by a large margin. The Blue Jackets held Kucherov to just two assists in the first-round sweep. Stamkos had a goal and an assist. Brayden Point was held to just one goal.
It’s remarkable how well Columbus has done to shut down some of the NHL’s best players. And then they apply the same force on the rest of the nine forwards on the ice. Boston has been held to eight goals now, and they have to rely on secondary scoring. When that well runs dry (and it did in Game 3) then nothing can be done.
And Columbus just finds a way.
Matt Duchene has five goals now in these playoffs, and has become Mr. Clutch (he scored the overtime winner in Game 2) with his second straight game-winning goal. Boone Jenner‘s first of the playoffs opened the scoring in the first period.
Boston’s lone goal in the game came on a weird play.
Rule 38.4 (xi) had to be called up to count Jake DeBrusk‘s goal to make it 2-1 on what was deemed a continuous play, despite the whistle from the referee blowing.
The NHL’s Situation room ruled that the play was unaffected by the whistle.
“The video review process shall be permitted to assist the Referees in determining the legitimacy of all potential goals… include situations whereby the Referee stops play or is in the process of stopping the play because he has lost sight of the puck and it is subsequently determined by video review that the puck crosses (or has crossed) the goal line and enters the net as the culmination of a continuous play where the result was unaffected by the whistle (i.e., the timing of the whistle was irrelevant to the puck entering the net at the end of a continuous play).”
DeBrusk’s goal was as close as the Bruins would come.
Sergei Bobrovsky put on an incredible performance with 36 saves, including several of the 10-bell variety. Whether he’s playing for an even bigger raise or he’s just put those past playoff demons to rest, he’s coming up in the clutch for Columbus and it’s fun to watch (especially when he’s doing Dominik Hasek things).
Game 4 goes at 7:30 p.m. ET on Thursday on NBCSN (Stream live).
Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck