For a while, this game was going exactly how Bruins fans hoped it’d go: the Blue Jackets came out rusty, the Bruins came out flying, and an early lead had fans feeling confident.
However, there was an uncomfortable feeling after the first period. You couldn’t help but feel like the Bruins should have done more. A few missed tips, a few bouncing pucks, a few great saves by Sergei Bobrovsky.
Those fears were realized in the third, when Columbus scored two quick “couldn’t do it again if they tried” goals and the Bruins found themselves trailing.
Just when it looked like the Blue Jackets were going to continue their stunning run with another steal, Charlie Coyle scored, then scored again, and all was well in Boston.
The B’s ended up taking Game 1 with a 3-2 OT win, their third playoff win in a row. Here are some thoughts from a wild night at the Garden:
- In the first period, it was rust, not rest, for Columbus. The Bruins absolutely rolled the Blue Jackets in the first period. In terms of possession, shot attempts, actual shots...it was a madhouse. The Blue Jackets looked like they were hanging on for dear life, but a combination of Bobrovsky saves and Bruins flubs let the Jackets hang around.
- You can’t help but be happy for Charlie Coyle. His turnover inside the defensive blue line led directly to the first Columbus goal. He atoned for that mistake by tying the game late in the third, and then did one better with the OT winner. As Jack Edwards likes to say, guilt is a powerful motivator.
- Speaking of Coyle, it’s weird to say, but he’s probably been the Bruins’ best forward in this postseason. Yes, better than Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, etc. Coyle has ended up one the scoresheet many nights, and when he’s been kept off it, he’s been solid in other areas. He’s been great along the boards in the offensive zone, and has done a great job keeping possession for extended stretches.
- Tonight must have been fairly sweet for Don Sweeney. His two big acquisitions were the ones that led the way for the Bruins: it was Marcus Johansson to Coyle for the game-tying goal, and Johansson to Coyle for the game-winning goal. BRUINS WIN THE DEADLINE!
- In a good sign for the Bruins, Johansson has looked better in the past two games than he did all regular season with the B’s. Bruce Cassidy credited Johansson’s God-given talents after the game, citing his smarts and vision as his best assets. If he’s feeling good and gets rolling, it will be huge for the Bruins.
- Tuukka Rask was solid tonight. There was nothing he could do on either of the Columbus goals, and he made some big saves in the middle portion of this game.
- David Krejci didn’t play at all in overtime, leaving the game after taking a hit that seemed late and a bit high from Riley Nash. After the game, Cassidy said that he hadn’t talked to Krejci, but that he wasn’t in concussion protocol and is considered day-to-day. He also mentioned that the game ended before Krejci could come back, but kind of implied that he could have returned if the game continued.
- Cassidy said postgame that he wasn’t terribly concerned about his top lines, but I’m not sure if I believe him. David Pastrnak has looked off the entire playoffs. Brad Marchand uncharacteristically missed a few golden chances tonight. Jake DeBrusk was quiet.
- The only reason the Bruins are still playing? Their bottom-six forwards, oddly enough. It was the fourth line in Game 7 against Toronto, and was Noel Acciari who got things going tonight. As Cassidy implied after the game, if the Bruins can get their big guns going too, look out.
- Charlie McAvoy showed another side of his game tonight: he was throwing the body big time. In the third, he got laid out by Josh Anderson behind the Bruin net. He got right up, and then proceeded to throw himself at any Blue Jacket he came across.
- The most noticeable Columbus forwards to me tonight were Alexandre Texier, Pierre-Luc Dubois, and Josh Anderson. Artemi Panarin was fine, but Cam Atkinson was borderline invisible, except when Marchand stepped on his stick before a faceoff.
- The Blue Jackets appear to be determined to take the body against the Bruins, at times toeing the line of legality. Two or three times in the first period, Columbus skaters came a lonnnnnnnnng way to throw hits. Something to keep an eye on going forward.
- It’s worth noting that the Bruins won Game 1 of the second round last year. SORRY, just wanted to put it out there.
- It’s probably nothing, but Patrice Bergeron looked to be hurting a bit toward the end of the game. He came in hard on the forecheck and laid a pretty big hit on the CBJ defenseman, but absorbed a lot of the blow too. He skated to the bench and remained bent over for a bit, but did return to action.
- I was impressed by Columbus hanging in there, but the Blue Jackets didn’t have much in the way of offense 5v5. Even when the Bruins’ initial surge subsided, the Jackets weren’t exactly pouring forward. If the Bruins can continue to clamp down on the Jackets at even strength, they’re going to be fine (as long as they stay out of the box).
- The Columbus defensemen seemed to have a hard time dealing with the Bruins forecheck for large stretches of the game. Again, something to keep an eye on.
- Against Tampa, Columbus took a haymaker early, got up, and slugged Tampa back. Tampa never recovered. They did the same to the Bruins tonight, but the B’s, to their credit, got back up and returned the favor. If the Jackets were expecting another team that would fold when the heat got turned up, they got quite a surprise.
- I have no idea what happened, but during the pregame presentation, the Bruins kind of buried the lede with the flag-bearer. It was Jaylen Brown of the Celtics who got the honor tonight, but there wasn’t a ton of promotion of it. Regardless, it’s cool to see increased synergy between Boston’s two winter teams. The Celtics kick off their second-round series in Milwaukee on Sunday.
- The Bruins appear to be taking complaints about their ice seriously, as it was FREEZING in the press box tonight.
Back at it on Saturday! Let’s keep it rolling.