After three overtime periods in two games to kick off the series, the Bruins and Blue Jackets are heading to Columbus tied 1-1. Despite the close score, the Bruins were clearly the better team in Game 1, as Kenny Matheson detailed after the game.
Columbus was powerless against their ability to cycle the puck and, even though it didn’t lead to a goal, you never want David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron, and Brad Marchand cycling around in your end for extended periods of time.
Boston also had the edge in rush scoring chances, which led to two of its goals. Coyle’s game-winner is as close as you can get to a rush goal, but it technically isn’t since Danton Heinen didn’t get control of the puck until after he entered the zone. No matter, it was still a goal scored in transition.
In Game 2, Columbus played much better hockey. Having Sergei Bobrovsky in highlight-reel mode helps, but couple that with a defense that adjusted well and you have a dangerous combo.
Despite playing nearly a full extra period, the Bruins spent less time in the Jackets zone and saw their numbers drop across the board. Boston was simply unable to set their offense and cycle the puck the same way it did in Game 1. Columbus disrupted passing lanes, especially to the slot, where the B’s saw their completion percentage drop a full 10% from 47.8% to 37.5%.
The Blue Jackets have already shown their giant-killing abilities in their Round 1 upset of Tampa Bay and Game 2 against Boston was more proof of that. The Bruins are the favorite in the Eastern Conference, but seeding is just a number in the playoffs. Now, they have to go to what will surely be a very loud Nationwide Arena to bounce back from an emotionally and physically draining first two games. Can they get the series lead back, or will Columbus’ Cinderella story continue?