BLUE JACKETS vs. BRUINS - GAME 3
Series tied 1-1
Tuesday, 7 p.m., Nationwide Arena (NBCSN, CBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports, CBJ app, 97.1 The Fan)
Josh Anderson almost seems like a throwback to a different era, in what now is playoff hockey was the kind of hockey that was played on a nightly basis.
He's a power forward in a league that has gone to speed in the past couple of years, though Anderson certainly has some of that as well. But in today's game, he feels like a throwback to when big, physical, hard-hitting forwards who could also score roamed the ice, intimidating and filling the net in equal spades.
Now, with fighting going down and speed the key, there just aren't many guys like Anderson because guys his size don't typically move like him. He's as fast as he is physical, able to use his speed to accelerate into checks or accelerate by defensemen who aren't used to seeing a runaway train like him still in the game.
GAME 3 HUB: Highlights, tweets, and news
Which is why head coach John Tortorella keeps wanting more out of Anderson. To whom much is given, much is expected, and when you can fly, you can hit, and you can finish, well, NHL coaches will practically drool at the thought of what you can become.
This season more than ever, Anderson put together those prodigious gifts. The 6-foot-3, 221-pounder set career highs with 27 goals, 20 assists and 47 points, and there were parts during the season it was fair to call him the team's best player, as Tortorella did down the stretch when Anderson had an 11-11-22 line over 26 games from late January through late March.
In the playoffs, Anderson has been up and down. His shorthanded goal tied Game 1 vs. Tampa Bay and was a key part of the comeback, but Anderson doesn't have a point since then. He was still impactful vs. the Bolts thanks to his physical play -- his opposite No. 77, Victor Hedman, likely still has Anderson in his thoughts -- but Anderson could be the kind of player who can shine in a series like the one the Jackets are in against Boston.
So again, to whom much is given, much is expected, and Anderson's head coach wants to big No. 77 remind the Bruins that number can be a pretty dominating one on the ice.
"He needs to be noticed more," Tortorella said. "Josh has to be a guy that brings attention to himself. That's the best way to describe him, and I have said that about him from day one when I met him and I saw what he could do for this hockey club. He's a very important guy in this series."
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Game 3 storyline
They say a series doesn't start until either team loses at home.
We're not sure who "they" are, but they have a point -- if everyone holds serve, it'll come down to Game 7. If not, home-ice advantage flips and the series takes on a different flavor.
So, you can see where we're going here. After the Blue Jackets took Game 2 against Boston in overtime to tie this series at one, it is now the Blue Jackets who have home ice. With five games left, three will be played in Columbus, starting with Tuesday night's Game 3.
Video: Dubinsky not shaken by physical nature of series
And if there is such a thing as momentum, the Blue Jackets think they might have it after leaving Boston on a high note.
"I think momentum is obviously a huge part of what we were trying to get back in Game 2," captain Nick Foligno said. "We worked hard to get that overtime win, and we have to feel good about that and knowing we could get our game going as the game went on. You feel a lot better winning than losing that game.
"It's important to use that energy and excitement we created for ourselves into this one, and knowing that they are going to come out even hungrier."
That's one thing that is likely true. The Bruins have played in just about every difficult environment in hockey over their wildly successful past decade, so as amped as Nationwide Arena will be for Game 3, the crowd alone won't win the Blue Jackets the game.
Instead, Columbus will have to keep working to impose its game. After the layoff-induced slow start to Game 1, the Jackets feel as if they've gotten stronger as the series has gone on. Now, with Game 3 returning to the familiar confines of Nationwide Arena, they have a chance to further take control with a victory Tuesday night.
"I think we have fought hard," Tortorella said. "I think we have stayed together as a group through surges by the Bruins and found a way to split in Boston. Now we have to get ready to play our next game."
Columbus: Coming off his two-goal game in Saturday night's double-overtime win, Artemi Panarin has a point in every playoff game for the Jackets and a 4-5-9 line overall … Seth Jones has two points in each of the two games of the series and leads all skaters in ice time. … Matt Duchene, who scored the Game 2 overtime winner, is tied for the CBJ lead in playoff goals with Panarin with four.
Boston: Hometown kid Charlie Coyle has two goals and a primary assist so far in the series. … Another Boston kid, defenseman Matt Grzelcyk, has a goal and is plus-2 in the two games.
Columbus: Sergei Bobrovsky continues to be one of the most impressive goaltenders of the playoffs having allowed just 13 goals in six starting and posting a .930 save percentage. A number of his overtime saves turned heads and allowed the Jackets to live long enough to get to Duchene's OT goal.
Boston: Tuukka Rask, the wily veteran, has been Bobrovsky's equal so far in the series, as each has given up five goals to this point. Rask also was excellent in Game 2, especially in overtime, and his sprawling glove save of Nick Foligno's near-winner early in extra time would be looked at as the game saver if the Jackets hadn't later won the contest.
If you think that's a familiar face on the other side of the rink against the Bruins, odds are, it is.
Dublin native Sean Kuraly has played in Nationwide Arena before, but this will be another level of intrigue. The AAA Blue Jackets alum grew up watching the Jackets in the downtown venue and will now try to eliminate his hometown team.
It's an obvious storyline -- and a great accomplishment for Kuraly, who is part of a burgeoning number of NHL pros from central Ohio thanks in part to the great work of that AAA Blue Jackets program -- but of course the fourth-line forward is thinking only about wins right now.
"I think it'll be fun, but we're going like it's an important playoff game," he said Monday. "Luckily I have a lot of friends in family who were there during the regular season and kind of got that out of the way. Now it's all business."
As for those friends and family, Kuraly said, "They're Bruins fans right now. Some of my friends, actually, I don't know if they made the jump, but they'll be hearing about that this summer."
Kuraly has been a key part of a Bruins team that has relied as much on secondary scoring as it has its big guns in the past few playoff games. In the Game 7 win vs. Toronto, the goal scorers were Kuraly, Joakim Nordstrom and Marcus Johansson before Coyle and Patrice Bergeron added empty-netters. In Game 1 vs. Columbus, Coyle scored twice and Noel Acciari also tallied. In Game 2, Grzelcyk and David Pastrnak scored.
That's two goals combined, then, in the last three games from the high-scoring quartet of Bergeron, Pastrnak, Brad Marchand and David Krejci, and head coach Bruce Cassidy has continuously fiddled with his lineup to try to get the most from those players. The latest iteration, based on Monday's practice, seems to be putting Pastrnak with Coyle and Johansson and Danton Heinen back with Bergeron and Marchand.
Another move that appears in the offing is the return of Karson Kuhlman to the lineup. The rookie didn't play in the first two games of the series but did have a goal and an assist April 2 vs. Columbus and a 3-2-5 line in 11 games this regular season.
3 keys to the game
Stay out of the box: Columbus had to kill just six penalties vs. Tampa Bay but has had eight kills in two games against Boston. A number of those penalties were of the offensive zone variety, including the four-minute double minor for high sticking taken on a CBJ power play by Anderson in Game 2. "Playing with fire," Tortorella said Monday.
Generate 5-on-5: The Blue Jackets have two goals at 5-on-5 during the series. Boston's defense shines in the game's natural state, but still, a goal per game at 5-on-5 won't be enough across the length of a series. Columbus needs more scoring chances up and down the lineup.
Play within control: There's no doubt Nationwide Arena will be amped up for this one -- the roof might come off the dang place -- but Columbus can't have a repeat of Game 2 where Boston's early physical play drew some out-of-control hit attempts from the Jackets. Such things have to come naturally, as they often do for the CBJ.
Blue Jackets projected lineup
*Subject to change
Artemi Panarin - Pierre-Luc Dubois - Cam Atkinson
Nick Foligno - Matt Duchene - Josh Anderson
Alexandre Texier - Alexander Wennberg - Oliver Bjorkstrand
Brandon Dubinsky - Boone Jenner - Riley Nash
Zach Werenski - Seth Jones
Dean Kukan - David Savard
Scott Harrington - Adam Clendening
Scratched: F Ryan Dzingel, Markus Hannikainen, Lukas Sedlak, Eric Robinson; D Markus Nutivaara (injured), Adam McQuaid (injured), Ryan Murray (IR), Vladislav Gavrikov, Andrew Peeke; G Keith Kinkaid, Elvis Merzlikins.