After a crazy ending to Game 5 in which the Blue Jackets almost pulled off the comeback, the series is heading back to Columbus for a crucial Game 6. So far, 20 of the 25 goals scored have come from the slot. Only Artemi Panarin’s sharp-angle goal in Game 2 and Seth Jones’ Game 5 squeaker came significantly away from the slot, while the other three goals were all from just outside the house. The scoring chance battle has been in Boston’s favor through five games, but when it comes to actually hitting the net, they’re almost dead even.
Despite the gap in scoring chances, the Blue Jackets have done a much better job reaching their mark. In fact, their 66.1% of slot shots reaching the net comfortably leads teams in Round 2. Boston, meanwhile, has missed the net on a slot attempt 36 times in five games, more than any other team in the second round. They’ve also seen 33 of their slot shot attempts and 115 of their total attempts blocked, both tied for second-most. It’s not surprising then to see Columbus defensemen owning the top of the blocked shots leaderboard in Round 2.
One thing is certain, whoever wins tonight (and the series as a whole, really) will have to get in close if they hope to score because both Tuukka Rask and Sergei Bobrovsky have been on top of their game all playoffs. Boston’s edge in quality chances and offensive zone time doesn’t mean much if they can’t find clear shooting lanes. The Blue Jackets have been fearless in this series, getting in in front of pucks any chance they get. Don’t expect that to change with a raucous crowd behind them in a must-win Game 6.