Mark Scheig The Hockey Writers
Blue Jackets Sharp In Only Postseason Tune Up
The Columbus Blue Jackets defeated the Boston Bruins 4-1 on Thursday night in Toronto. Let’s discuss our five things we learned from this game.
1. Liam Foudy Didn’t Look Out of Place
All eyes were on Liam Foudy. Coach John Tortorella said he was going to play, but wasn’t sure which line he’d start on. Foudy started with Gus Nyquist and Boone Jenner and helped setup a beautiful goal to open the scoring.
Foudy connected on a great pass to Jenner to make the score 1-0. We knew the speed would be there, but we got a glimpse of the kind of playmaker he can be.
The knock on Foudy has always been his hands couldn’t keep up with his feet. It seems that the hands are starting to catch up. If it continues down this path, Foudy could have a major impact on the Blue Jackets in future seasons.
For now though, Foudy will get his chance to make an impression. Tortorella postgame said he will be in the lineup. It’s Foudy time.
2. Blue Jackets Had a Point to Prove
I expected the Blue Jackets to have more urgency in this game simply because they start a best-of-five elimination series Sunday night while the Bruins have a non-elimination round robin to play. The Blue Jackets started sharp and kept it up most of the game.
After Jenner made it 1-0, the Blue Jackets scored twice in 16 seconds thanks to a four-on-four goal by Zach Werenski and then a power-play goal by Nyquist. The Blue Jackets needed to make sure they were on point as quickly as possible. Gaining a 3-0 lead and then locking it down the rest of the game is a good sign. Outside of an unlucky bounce to David Pastrnak, the Blue Jackets controlled most of the play.
If nothing else, a game like Thursday shows they will be ready for the Maple Leafs. They showed they were able to get comfortable quickly in the new environment. That bodes well for their chances.
3. Lineup More in Focus?
We know Foudy is going to play. But outside of that, Tortorella will have some tough decisions to make. That starts in goal.
Joonas Korpisalo pitched a shutout in about 30 minutes of play while Elvis Merzlikins allowed one during the second half. Tortorella said postgame that they will discuss the goaltending situation as to who will start. As of now, no decision has been made. However, this tough decision shows how good the team is set there for the next few years.
As for the sixth defensemen, both Dean Kukan and Markus Nutivaara played. Tortorella will have to decide which one plays. Besides that, it seems the players are set. But lines are still to be determined.
4. Ice Concerns
It’s well documented that players and teams have expressed concerns about the ice especially with multiple games a day, summer heat and humidity. However Cam Atkinson had an interesting answer when asked about the ice conditions for the game.
Atkinson said the ice was choppy especially at the end of periods. But then he added that everyone has to go through it. Then he said something that stood out.
“I think that will be an advantage for us.”
That’s a very interesting thing to say. The Maple Leafs have offense and speed. Perhaps the ice conditions slow them some. And perhaps it helps the Blue Jackets on defense.
Tonight the puck did bounce around on the ice a bunch like it was choppy. It will be interesting to see how this affects teams moving forward. Could it actually be an advantage? Atkinson seems to think so.
Related: Cam Atkinson Knows His Time Is Now
5. One Area to Cleanup
If there is one area the Blue Jackets could look to cleanup, it’s the slot area. Early on, they allowed the Bruins to take most of their shots from the slot. Against a team like the Maple Leafs, this cannot become a theme.
The Maple Leafs essentially have two first lines with the offensive fire power that they have. For the Blue Jackets to enjoy success, they must keep Matthews, Tavares, Marner and company to the outside. Tortorella said postgame that there are a number of things they need to continue to work on. “We’ll have to be better in all situations.” As the games ramp up, this will get addressed.
Up next is Game 1 on Sunday night. Let the games begin.
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