How surreal it is: The Columbus Blue Jackets will be playing in front of a boisterous crowd at Nationwide Arena this evening with a chance to take a 3-0 series lead over the Washington Capitals. The puck drop is scheduled for shortly after 7:30 PM ET.
Here are a few things worth mentioning from the first two games of the series:
Power Plays have been nothing short of HUGE
There’s nothing that changes the complexion of a game in the National Hockey League like (good or bad) special teams. The Caps were nothing short of dangerous on the man advantage, scoring five power-play goals on 13 attempts through the first two games. The CBJ, however, have surprisingly been clutch on the man advantage; scoring on four of eight power-play opportunities. Long story short, an extra man goes a long way in this series.
Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov continue to be dangerous goal scorers
The two aforementioned players above are a couple of the best finishers in the NHL today. They haven’t disappointed so far in the first round, with each player scoring a combined two goals apiece through two games.
Tom Wilson’s not-so-special series
Caps Right Winger Tom Wilson has had two games he’d like to forget thus far. In both Game 1 and Game 2, Wilson had penalties that lead to CBJ power-play goals. To add fuel to the fire, Wilson had half the net wide open with a chance to tie the series at 1-1 on Sunday night, but, as was foreshadowed in the title above, Wilson was no dice with his opportunity and the Jackets still lead the series 2-0.
Philipp Grubau(wait a minute, maybe we should’ve started Braden Holtby)er
Washington started Grubauer in net for the first two games. What happened next? He allowed eight goals on 49 shots. Holtby’s stint in Game 2 consisted of saving seven of eight shots on net. Whoever gets the start in Game 3, there seems to be anything but a “reliable” goaltender for the Caps in what will be a crucial game tonight.
Sergei Stands Tall
Sergei Bobrovsky, goaltender for the CBJ, was arguably the biggest question mark in Columbus heading into the postseason. He’s had plenty of great saves in the first couple games; including a franchise record 54 saves on 58 shots in Sunday night’s Game 2 victory.
Seth Jones Continues To Shine
CBJ Defenseman Seth Jones will likely never get enough credit for how good he is. Like artists, it’s tough to find enough time to explain all the intricate details as to why he’s above the rest. Jones has a combined 63+ minutes of ice time in Games 1 and 2, also recording a goal (of the power-play variety) and two assists thus far in his 2018 postseason.
Bread for the People
CBJ Forward Artemi Panarin, also known as “The Breadman” has been nothing short of great through the first couple games. He’s racked up four assists as well as a game-winning overtime goal in Game 1. The Jackets acquired Panarin to be a player who’d ultimately be a go-to guy and playmaker in the postseason. So far, he’s living up to that billing.
The Columbus Blue Jackets are in uncharted territory, playing on home ice with a 2-0 series lead in the postseason. That being said, this team has done nothing but go above and beyond expectations since the trade deadline. So, seeing them go up 3-0 is anything but a pipe dream. It obviously won’t be easy against the high-powered offense of the Caps, but there’s a reason the CBJ are up 2-0.
Buckle up, it’s about to get loud and rowdy at Nationwide Arena.