Preview: Blue Jackets at Bruins
Following a rash of upsets in the opening round of the postseason, which saw all four division winners sent packing, the Boston Bruins could be considered the team to beat in the race to hoist the Stanley Cup. The Bruins look to take a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference semifinal series when they host the eighth-seeded Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night.
Two days after eliminating Toronto in a winner-take-all Game 7, Boston needed overtime to squeeze out a 3-2 victory over the Blue Jackets on Thursday night - its third win in four matchups this season. "You want to ride that same emotion going into that next series, but then again you realize that you need to bring the same intensity,” Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask told reporters after Thursday's win. “So that’s what we wanted to do, we wanted to play hard right off the bat." Conversely, Columbus was idle for eight days after dismantling Presidents' Trophy-winning Tampa Bay in a shocking four-game sweep and the layoff was apparent to both the coaching staff and players. "You can't simulate a playoff game, especially a second-round playoff game against a really good team like that," forward Brandon Dubinsky told reporters. "I figured we'd come out with a little rust. Obviously, we need to be sharper."
TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, TVA, Sportsnet
ABOUT THE BLUE JACKETS: Columbus erupted for 19 goals after spotting Tampa Bay a 3-0 lead in its playoff opener, but it has been limited to a combined five tallies in the last three meetings against the Bruins - with both goals Thursday coming in a span of 13 seconds. "I think we have the personnel to be able to score those (gritty) goals, but we have the personnel to be able to score those skill goals on the rushes and stuff like that," said Pierre-Luc Dubois, who was credited with a goal when a puck deflected off his body. "I think that's what's dangerous about our team." Sergei Bobrovsky made 34 saves in Game 1 but has surrendered 21 goals in his last five starts versus Boston.
ABOUT THE BRUINS: Charlie Coyle, who grew up less than 20 miles from Boston and was among the most under-the-radar acquisitions at the trade deadline, scored the tying goal late in the third before delivering the decisive tally in overtime for his team-high fifth strike of the playoffs. Another overlooked addition to the roster, Marcus Johansson, also played a huge role in Game 1 by setting up both goals by Coyle - including a perfect cross-ice pass in the extra session that led to a tap-in. One possible injury concern is No. 2 center David Krejci (upper body), who was hurt in the third period Thursday and is listed as day-to-day, with coach Bruce Cassidy saying he could be a game-time decision.
1. Bruins F David Pastrnak, who had 38 goals in the regular season, has tallied in only one of the eight playoff games.
2. Blue Jackets D Seth Jones has five points during a three-game streak after collecting two assists Thursday.
3. Both teams were productive on the power play in the first round but they each failed on four chances Thursday.
PREDICTION: Bruins 4, Blue Jackets 2