The Columbus Blue Jackets had nine days off before Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Boston Bruins on Thursday night. The team (not including Sergei Bobrovsky) was rusty and it cost them in a 3-2 overtime loss at the TD Garden.
Head Coach John Tortorella talked afterwards about the slow start:
You saw our struggles in the first. We couldn’t handle the tempo of the game…We just weren’t thinking quick enough…We just couldn’t simulate that…As far as trying to get ready. When you got that team that’s coming on a high…We just gotta be ready to start the next game.
Despite being outplayed in all facets of the game, Columbus only gave up one goal in the first period, thanks to Sergei Bobrovsky saving 13 of 14 shots on net.
The Jackets were outshot 14-4 in the 1st period and 37-22 overall. The consistency of the club we saw in the sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning was nowhere to be found.
Brandon Dubinsky and Pierre-Luc Dubois scored two goals in a span of 13 seconds, as Columbus shockingly took a 2-1 lead with just over 12 minutes remaining in regulation.
Before the series started, the top defensive pairing of Seth Jones and Zach Werenski was often mentioned by reporters as one of the main reasons to believe the Jackets had a real chance to win the best-of-seven series against the Bruins.
Instead, it was Jones who made a mistake on the game-tying goal, followed by an awful sequence from Werenski in overtime that ended with Charlie Coyle tapping the puck into the back of the net. Coyle also scored the aforementioned goal to tie the game, earning himself the first-star honor for Game 1.
All the right things were said after the loss. However, there’s eerie feeling the inconsistent version of Columbus we saw thoroughout the regular season may come back to form, as the Jackets showed up in Game 1 looking like a completely different team than the one we saw in Round 1.
The CBJ rarely had much of a forecheck, looked sloppy in the neutral zone, and found themselves stuck on the defensive side of the rink with Boston firing puck after puck at Bobrovsky.
The first game went to overtime, but shouldn’t have been close. A phenomenal performance from Bob was nothing more than a waste, due to the Jackets not finding a rhythm at all (except for a span of 13 seconds).
Seth Jones had a fitting quote after Thursday’s disappointing loss:
We have a lot to improve on if we’re gonna have any chance in this series.
Torts made somewhat of a surprising lineup change today, taking out Ryan Dzingel and replacing him with Alexander Wennberg. Dzingel, who was acquired at the trade deadline, registered zero points through five postseason games thus far in 2019. Wennberg will be making his 2019 playoff debut tonight and has a goal and two assists in eight career postseason contests.
Game 2 will be at 8:00 PM ET for on NBC. A national audience will be watching as the Columbus Blue Jackets look to find their game once again and concoct an upset recipe for Round 2.