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5 Reasons: Why Blue Jackets were eliminated

Poor play of goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, below-average special teams made for quick exit from postseason

by Craig Merz / NHL.com Correspondent

COLUMBUS -- The best season in Columbus Blue Jackets history ended with a short stay in the Stanley Cup Playoffs following 50 wins, 108 points and the fourth-best record in the NHL.

Although the Blue Jackets were short on playoff experience -- 10 players made their postseason debuts -- they didn't lack in the belief that they could stick with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference First Round series, before losing in five games.

"I thought our guys had no fear playing against the Stanley Cup champ," coach John Tortorella said. "We put a ton of good minutes in. I'm proud of our club."

Here are five reasons why the Blue Jackets were eliminated:

 

1. SERGEI BOBROVSKY FALTERS

Bobrovsky was suspect throughout the series after leading the NHL in goals-against average (2.06) and save percentage (.931) in the regular season.

Bobrovsky allowed a number of soft goals and finished with a 3.88 GAA and an .882 SV% in the series. He simply wasn't good enough and has three wins in 14 playoff starts (3-11, 3.63 GAA, .887 SV%).

 

2. HIT OR MISS

Columbus had a combined 100 hits in the first two games when they were outscored 7-2 in losses. The Blue Jackets were credited with 97 over the next three games, including 37 in Game 5, and were more disciplined in their structure, but still lost, 5-2.

Forward Scott Hartnell said before Game 4 that the original plan was ineffective

"As much as you want to outhit them, it's obviously not working," he said. "Basically all it does is tire yourself out. I watch other teams play, there hasn't been too much of the 'I'm just going to run you over just for the fun of it.'"

Video: CBJ@PIT, Gm2: Rowney lays big body check on Dubinsky

 

3. DEFENSIVE PAIRING NOT EFFECTIVE

Tortorella can be questioned for his defensive pairing early in the series. He opted for seldom-used Scott Harrington and Gabriel Carlsson, who had two career NHL games before the start of the playoffs, over rookie Markus Nutivaara (66 regular season games) and veteran Kyle Quincey, who had played in 54 NHL postseason games.

It wasn't until Calder Trophy finalist Zach Werenski was injured in Game 3 that Tortorella made changes, bringing in Nutivaara for Werenski and Quincey for Harrington.

In Game 4, a 5-4 Blue Jackets win, Nutivaara had a goal and an assist and Quincey had an assist.

 

4. NOTHING GAINED

The Blue Jackets had the better of the play for long stretches but the combination of Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and poor finishing was lethal. In Game 5, the Blue Jackets had 51 shots, including 30 scoring chances, but lost by three goals.

"We just couldn't get the job done," right wing Oliver Bjorkstrand said. "Maybe a few times we needed a few bounces and maybe bury some chances."

Video: CBJ@PIT, Gm5: Fleury stops 49 to help Pens advance

 

5. Not so special

The Blue Jackets killed 10 of 15 (66.7 percent) shorthanded situations and went 2-for-12 (16.7 percent) on their power play. Losing Werenski hurt the power play, and the Columbus rarely gained momentum with a timely kill.

"Well, we are playing against the Stanley Cup champions," Quincey said. "Good teams make you pay for every little mistake. They don't need many scoring chances to score."

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