The Columbus Blue Jackets and Boston Bruins will meet at Nationwide Arena tonight in Game 4 of their best-of-seven series. With the CBJ up 2-1, tonight’s contest will obviously go a long way in determining how momentum plays out with the series shifting back to Boston this weekend. Puck drop is scheduled for shortly after 7:30 PM ET.
After the first two games of the second round series between the Jackets and Bruins went to overtime, Game 3 in Columbus was decided in regulation. A terrific individual effort by Boone Jenner, a dominant CBJ power play in the second period, Sergei Bobrovsky, and his two best friends, Mr. Post and Mr. Crossbar, were the recipe for the Blue Jackets’ victory on Tuesday night.
The primary storylines to this point in the series have been the Jackets’ best players being their best players, the building frustration among the Bruins’ top guys, and Bobrovsky stopping everything sent his way.
CBJ Top Performers
When the going gets tough in the postseason, teams need to be able to count on everyone to pull their weight. To get wins, the best players need to perform. That’s exactly what’s happened the last two games for the CBJ.
Matt Duchene has registered a pair of game winning goals against Boston. Artemi Panarin scored twice in Game 2 and has added as many assists to this point in the series. Seth Jones has picked up four assists through three games. Cam Atkinson, although yet to light the lamp, has recorded two helpers in the series.
If the Blue Jackets are going to pick up another win at home before heading back to Boston for Game 5, the whole team effort will need to continue, and it starts at the top.
Frustration Brewing for the Bruins
CBJ fans saw it during the first round against the Tampa Bay Lightning: when the Jackets play their style of hockey, the opposition gets frustrated. The result is players taking unnecessary risks, taking low-percentage shots on net, making mistakes with the puck, and losing their cool.
Boston has started showing many of these aspects in their play the last couple games. We saw a few bad turnovers lead to glorious chances for the CBJ. The Bruins have peppered Bobrovsky with shots – many dangerous – but also many relatively harmless. We’ve also seen some chippy, borderline dirty, play out of the Boston side. Whether it’s a bad penalty, a big hit, or a cheap shot to the back of the head, frustrated play can lead to strong CBJ scoring chances, and we’ve seen a couple of those in the last two games.
The New Playoff Bob
Sergei Bobrovsky hasn’t exactly shined in the last few seasons once the calendar flipped to April. Through the first twenty minutes of play this postseason, it seemed the narrative was repeating itself. Since then, he’s been dominant.
He’s allowed three regulation goals just once since Game 1 of the first round, saving better than 94% of all shots sent his way. He’s making the routine saves that used to give his former playoff self fits, and he’s also making the spectacular ones that fans love. If Bob keeps playing at this level, the Blue Jackets are going to be a tough out for any team left in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Let’s keep it real, though. These Bruins are good. This series could pretty easily be 3-0 in favor of Boston if a few bounces went their way. They’ve proven to be a tougher team than the Lightning, so it would be surprising of they let the Jackets dominate the way they did in their previous series. Expect a huge push from the Bruins in Game 4 as they look to knot the series back up at two games apiece before heading back to Boston on Saturday.
It’s been an exciting spring thus far in Columbus. Regardless of what happens tonight, there’s guaranteed to be more hockey at Nationwide Arena this postseason. With a chance to take a 3-1 lead in front of what’s sure to be yet another electric crowd, expect both sides to be buzzing early in Game 4 this evening.