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5 Keys: Blue Jackets at Bruins, Game 1

Columbus needs to find its playoff edge after long layoff; Boston trying to carry momentum from first round

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

BLUE JACKETS at BRUINS

7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS

Less than 48 hours after advancing to the best-of-7 Eastern Conference Second Round, the Boston Bruins will host the Columbus Blue Jackets in Game 1 of the second round at TD Garden on Thursday.

The Bruins defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-1 in Game 7 of the first round Tuesday. The Blue Jackets haven't played since April 16, when they finished a four-game first-round sweep of the Presidents' Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning with a 7-3 win.

 

[RELATED: Complete Bruins vs. Blue Jackets series coverage]

 

"I think we equally have our challenges," Blue Jackets center Matt Duchene said. "They just came off an emotional Game 7. This is basically Game 8 for them and this is almost like Game 1 of the playoffs for us with the delay. It'll be an interesting start to the game."

Boston and Columbus played three times in the final three and a half weeks of the regular season, with the Bruins winning the last two, including 6-2 at Nationwide Arena on April 2. That is still the Blue Jackets' only loss in 12 games since March 24.

Here are 5 keys for Game 1:

 

1. Ride the wave from Game 7

If the Bruins can carry the emotion from their win Tuesday into Game 1 they could put Columbus on its heels. There is precedent for this, too.

Last season, Boston won Game 7 of the first round against the Maple Leafs and three days later carried the momentum into Game 1 of the second round against the Lightning, who hadn't played in a week, and won 6-2.

The Bruins couldn't sustain it and lost the next four games, but maybe they've learned from that experience.

"If you could draw it up perfectly, I think if we started [Friday] it would have been the best scenario so we get another day to take our breath, come in here today, 'OK, this is a couple of situations we want to run through,' get back into the battle," Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said. "Sometimes it depends on how healthy you are coming out [of the previous series]. Do you need an extra day? Or are the guys ready to go? You want to build off that high you just came out of. You play the hand you're dealt."

 

2. Find a playoff edge early

The Blue Jackets can't wade into this series. The Bruins won't give them that chance, not with how they're playing.

But ratcheting it back up after more than a week between games is easier said than done, which is why it'll be interesting to watch how Columbus handles the first 10 or so minutes of Game 1.

"I hope we're ready. I can't guarantee how it is," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said. "Eight or nine days off, I think we can say all the right things as I'm trying to do right now, but it comes down to the players being mentally ready. To me it's not a physical ready, it's a mental readiness as far as ready to elevate your compete to start a series."

 

3. Penalty killing will be a chore

The Blue Jackets had the best power play in the first round, finishing 50.0 percent (5-for-10). They scored the game-winning goals in Games 1, 2 and 3 against Tampa Bay on the power play. That doesn't include forward Oliver Bjorkstrand's 6-on-5 goal during a delayed penalty that wound up as the game-winner in Game 4.

The Bruins were second on the power play in the first round at 43.8 percent (7-for-16), including 2-for-2 in Game 6 and 5-for-8 in their wins. They did not have a power play in Game 7.

The good news for each team is they come in with a disciplined approach; Columbus was shorthanded six times in four games against Tampa Bay (1.5 penalty kills per game). Boston was shorthanded 16 times in seven games against Toronto (2.3 penalty kills per game).

Video: TBL@CBJ, Gm4: Bjorkstrand cleans up rebound in front

 

4. Anderson, Foligno and the grind

A big part of the Blue Jackets' game is predicated on their aggressive 1-2-2 forecheck. Josh Anderson and Nick Foligno, two of Columbus' third-line forwards, can set the tone on that forecheck with speed and physicality.

Anderson and Foligno, along with rookie linemate Alexandre Texier, make up Columbus' version of a grind line with skill. The key to their game is the forecheck, especially considering Tortorella likely will try to get them a lot of ice time against one of Boston's top two lines.

 

5. Boston's depth scoring

For a good part of the regular season the Bruins were struggling to generate scoring beyond their top line of Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand. Pastrnak now is playing on the second line with David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk to spread the scoring, but Boston needs offense from its bottom-two lines, too.

The Bruins got it in Game 7 against the Maple Leafs with goals from depth forwards Joakim Nordstrom, Sean Kuraly and Marcus Johansson. The Blue Jackets rely on four lines to provide offense. The Bruins need to match that.

Video: TOR@BOS, Gm7: Kuraly pots one top shelf on the rush

 

Blue Jackets projected lineup

Artemi Panarin -- Pierre-Luc Dubois -- Oliver Bjorkstrand

Ryan Dzingel -- Matt Duchene -- Cam Atkinson

Alexandre Texier -- Nick Foligno -- Josh Anderson

Riley Nash -- Boone Jenner -- Brandon Dubinsky

Zach Werenski -- Seth Jones

Dean Kukan -- David Savard

Scott Harrington -- Adam Clendening

Sergei Bobrovsky

Joonas Korpisalo

Scratched: Keith Kinkaid, Andrew Peeke, Alexander Wennberg, Markus Hannikainen, Vladislav Gavrikov, Lukas Sedlak, Eric Robinson

Injured: Ryan Murray (upper body), Adam McQuaid (upper body), Markus Nutivaara (upper body)

 

Bruins projected lineup

Brad Marchand -- Patrice Bergeron -- Danton Heinen

Jake DeBrusk -- David Krejci -- David Pastrnak

Marcus Johansson -- Charlie Coyle -- Chris Wagner

Joakim Nordstrom -- Sean Kuraly -- Noel Acciari

Zdeno Chara -- Charlie McAvoy

Torey Krug -- Brandon Carlo

Matt Grzelcyk -- Connor Clifton

Tuukka Rask

Jaroslav Halak

Scratched: David Backes, Karson Kuhlman, Steven Kampfer

Injured: Kevan Miller (lower body), John Moore (lower body)

 

Status report

The Blue Jackets will use the same lineup that closed out the Lightning in Game 4 of the first round. … Clifton, who missed Game 7 against the Maple Leafs with an upper-body injury, replaces Moore. ... Wagner, who was scratched for Game 7, replaces Kuhlman.

NHL.com correspondent Matt Kalman contributed to this report

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