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Preview: Bruins head to Columbus with a chance to close it out in Game 6

If they can duplicate their last Nationwide effort, they’ll be in good shape.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Boston Bruins at Columbus Blue Jackets Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Just the facts

When: Tonight, 7 PM

Where: Nationwide Arena - Columbus, OH

How to follow: NBCSN, CBC, 98.5 The Sports Hub

Rival SBN site: Jackets Cannon

Know your enemy

  • Goals: Artemi Panarin/Matt Duchene, 5
  • Assists: Panarin/Seth Jones/Cam Atkinson, 6
  • Points: Panarin, 11

Game notes

  • Here we go! The Bruins were faced with what was basically a must-win situation in their last outing here. They got the job done then, and are back in Ohio with a chance to close out the series.
  • The Bruins are 1 for 1 in “able to clinch” games this playoff season; the Blue Jackets haven’t been in a spot where they’re facing elimination yet this playoffs.
  • This is slightly oversimplifying things, but it’s worth nothing: you could argue that the Bruins’ PK has been what’s turned this series around. In Games 2 and 3, Columbus went a combined 3 for 7 on the PP. In Games 4 and 5, Columbus went a combined 0 for 6 on the PP, including a huge 0 for 4 showing on home ice in Game 4. It’s hard to say if it’s the Bruins PK guys or Tuukka Rask that’s made the difference. The truth probably lies somewhere in between.
  • Saturday night’s game showed the quick-strike ability of this Columbus team, proving that they’re never really out of a game. There’s so much talent on this team that a two-goal deficit isn’t the end of the world. The Bruins need to plan accordingly, should they find themselves with a lead.
  • As was noted by one of you fine commenters, John Tortorella really shortened his bench toward the end of Game 5, rolling three lines that were more laden with talent than the normal 4-line spread. Is this something he gambles on continuing in Game 6? The plus: more talent; the minus: fatigued players.
  • Speaking of the Columbus lineup, Tortorella rolled 7 defensemen in Game 5, though Adam Clendening barely played. My theory on this is two-fold: someone was nursing an injury and he wanted a healthy body in case that player couldn’t be effective, or he was trying to take some of the load off of Seth Jones and Zach Werenski, who have been monsters in this series.
  • Sergei Bobrovsky had a number of sparkling saves in Game 5, but had a couple he’d like to have back too. The Bruins’ first goal was a tough one to allow, but he more than made up for it with some big ones down the stretch. Ultimately, it wasn’t enough, but Bobrovsky has more than proved that he can steal a game.
  • The Bruins’ third line has been quiet over the last few games. After being one of the best players on the ice in the first couple of games, Charlie Coyle has quieted down a bit (though he’s still been effective). Marcus Johansson has contributed as well, and Danton Heinen had a few decent chances in Game 5. The play has been solid for that line, but the pucks haven’t gone in. They should be able to capitalize on favorable match-ups from a shortened Columbus bench.
  • If you’re a Bruins fan, you can’t help but be encouraged by the performance of the first line’s players in Games 4 and 5. Game 4 saw David Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron come alive, while Game 5 saw Pastrnak and Brad Marchand get going. If that line can play at the top of its game, Columbus isn’t going to be able to keep up; if they can clamp down on them as they did in the early games, the Bruins could be in a tough spot.
  • The Bruins played arguably their best game of the playoffs last time out in this building. They were responsible on defense, crisp on breakouts, and did a great job limiting second-chance opportunities. Why? They jumped out to a two-goal lead, preventing Columbus from collapsing on the slot to block shots. Maybe try that approach again tonight, fellas.
  • It’s hard to see Bruce Cassidy tinkering with the lineup tonight. Barring unknown injuries, the only real switch to be made would be to reinsert Noel Acciari, if he’s ready to go.

One final thing that isn’t really related to the game: as your Fearless Website Leader, I have to give a shoutout to all of the commenters here. We’ve seen a stronger community this season, and it really showed last game: there were more than 1,000 comments in the Public Skate, and more than 100 on the recap.

You folks make this site what is is, and we appreciate your input.

See ya tonight!