The Columbus Blue Jackets season is over at the hands of the Boston Bruins. Unfortunately for Columbus, John Tortorella’s prediction of Columbus forcing a Game 7 was wrong. Instead, the Blue Jackets fell on home ice in Game 6 of their second round series to the Boston Bruins by a final score of 3-0. This is Boston’s first trip to the Eastern Conference Final since 2013.
Boston Bruins Advance to Eastern Conference Final
Coming into the playoffs, the Blue Jackets were not given any chance at making a deep playoff run even though the Blue Jackets were playing really well. Columbus needed to fight and claw their way into the playoffs in the final weeks of the regular season. Just ask Tampa Bay how good Columbus was. Going up against the best team in the NHL, Columbus swept Tampa Bay out of the playoffs.
Even after the Blue Jackets conquered the Lightning, heading into the second round against the Bruins, Boston was still the favorite. Through the first four games Boston and Columbus were evenly matched. You could even say Columbus was outplaying Boston through the first three games. The first two games went to overtime and Columbus dominated a lot of the play in Boston.
The series turned in favor of the Boston Bruins in Game 4. Columbus had a chance to take control of the series, but Boston had other plans. With their backs against the wall for the third time this playoffs, the Bruins came out and imposed their will on Columbus. The big boys of David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron, and Brad Marchand took their game to another level. All three players factored in on goals that evening, and that carried over into Game 5.
In Game 5, David Pastrnak scored twice including the game winner as the Boston Bruins took a 3-2 series lead heading into Columbus. Game 5 was memorable for the final 10 minutes of the third period. In that period five goals were scored combined. Once Columbus fell behind 3-1, the Blue Jackets rallied to tie the game at 3-3. It appeared the game was heading into overtime, but Pastrnak had other ideas. Again the big boys for the Boston Bruins showed up.
Unfortunately for Columbus their big guns did not show up in the final three games of the series. Columbus looked fatigued in Game 5 and despite playing well for 10 minutes in the third period of Game 5 they were not going to win that game. A team can’t play less than 60 minutes and expect to win in the playoffs.
As much as fans want to complain about the play of Tuukka Rask, he has been delivering all postseason — especially in the big games. Rask came up huge in the final three games of the series including a 39 save shutout in Game 6. Rask also had some help from his defense and a couple of goal posts. The Boston Bruins will be tough to beat especially if Rask continues to play this well.
If there was a turning point in Game 6 it had to be the two minute minor to Boston Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy for an illegal check to the head. Instead of a five minute power play for Columbus, Boston only had to kill off two minutes, which the Bruins did. Clearly the Bruins dodged a bullet. Losing McAvoy for the rest of the game could have been very costly. Boston bailed him out. You just have to wonder if McAvoy will be available to start the Eastern Conference Final.
It was a great season for Columbus but their past demons caught up with them. Sergei Bobrovsky was not as sharp in the final three games of the season as Bobrovsky let up two soft goals at the end of Game 6 — one to Marcus Johansson and one to David Backes. In the final three games of the series Bobrovsky let in a combined 11 goals. Don’t be surprised if this was the final game Bobrovsky plays in a Columbus uniform.
More on the future of the Bobrovsky, Artemi Panarin, Matt Duchene, and Ryan Dzingel to come in another post.
The Boston Bruins will take on the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference Final.