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Blue Jackets hope to win the war of attrition in tight series

Two OT games in, Columbus and Boston separated by little

by Jeffrey Svoboda @JacketsInsider / BlueJackets.com

It might make for late nights, early mornings, raised heart levels and lower productivity, but get ready, Blue Jackets fans. 

You're in for a ride. 

If the first two games of the second-round Stanley Cup Playoffs series between Columbus and Boston taught us anything, it's that not much separates these two clubs. 

Video: Blue Jackets even series with Game 2 win in 2OT

It's more than just the two overtime games that stretched deep into the night (or, in Game 2's case of double overtime, the early morning hours).  

For example, take a look at the stat sheet for Game 2. Columbus had 71 shot attempts in the nearly 84 minutes of action, while Boston had … 70. The Jackets also ended up with 49 hits, while Boston had 42.  

PLAYOFF CENTRAL: Your one-stop location for news, notes, videos, and more

Sometimes, they tell you the numbers might lie, but those two numbers tell an accurate story. Not only was it a physical game, the teams couldn't have been more evenly matched. 

"It's two heavy teams," defenseman Seth Jones said after playing a game-high 38:01 in Game 2. "I think our identities, there are a lot of similarities with how physical we want to be and how we want to play down low and try to control the tempo of the game with physicality. It's just a game of attrition. We want to stick with what we know." 

If you look at the rosters of the two teams, you can see why the series has been so tight thus far. Both teams are constructed as teams that seem to excel when they work the hardest and get on the forecheck. Their identities are of teams that aren't afraid to get a bit dirty to get the job done, whether it be players like Nick Foligno, Brandon Dubinsky and David Savard for the Blue Jackets or Zdeno Chara, Chris Wagner and Sean Kuraly for the Bruins. 

But each team also has the kind of elite skill that means they don't need a ton of room to make something happen. From point-a-game wunderkind Artemi Panarin and 40-goal scorer Cam Atkinson with the Blue Jackets and such talents as Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak on the other side, there are dynamic offensive skill players for each team. 

"That's a really good hockey team over there," said Matt Duchene, who scored the OT winner in Game 2. "We're so evenly matched, I find, with the way we both play. There's not much room out there. There's no one really taking over the game. Bread a few times tonight for sure, but it's such an almost stalemate out there. I'm not surprised it went to overtime back-to-back games."

GAME 3 HUB: Highlights, tweets, and news

So how the Blue Jackets end up winning such a battle? First, it's a bit of a compliment to even be in it considering the nature of the Boston team the Jackets are playing. Not only is it an Original Six outfit, it's a team that has made seven appearances in the second round of the playoffs in the last 11 years and has a 2011 Stanley Cup banner hanging in the rafters of TD Garden. 

It's a team and a franchise that has been together through a lot of big moments and playoff hockey over the past decade, and Columbus has built a team that can go toe-to-toe. 

Now, it's about finishing the job and winning a series that figures to be as tight as any in Blue Jackets history. To do so, Foligno keeps coming back to the same word, one that head coach John Tortorella has ingrained in his head. 

"Torts uses this word and half the team I think understands it," Foligno said. "It's the attrition of a series and how you just have to wear each other down. Hopefully we can do the same thing to them." 

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