The first round of the NHL Playoffs is underway with plenty of action up on the board for Thursday. Four games will be on throughout the day. One of these matchups will be Game 2 between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Tampa Bay Lightning. These two teams met in an intense Game 1 and I expect another good one on August 13. The puck will drop for this game at around 3:00 PM Eastern time on NBCSN.
The Blue Jackets finished out the regular season with a record of 33-22-15, which had them in ninth place of the Eastern Conference. Columbus knocked out the Toronto Maple Leafs in an intense five game series to move on to the round of sixteen. The Blue Jackets battled hard with the Lightning in Game 1 of this series and will look to bounce back after a devastating loss.
Tampa Bay finished out the regular season with a 43-21-6 record, which had them in second place of the Eastern Conference. The Lightning won two of their three games in the round robin to secure the second seed in the East. Tampa Bay was able to earn the leg up on the series this time around with a Game 1 win and will look to build upon that.
These two teams met in one of the most memorable games of all time in Game 1, going all the way to fifth overtime. I expect both teams to come out a bit tired in Game 2, but expect that to wear off as the game goes along. These two teams went back and forth in Game 1 and I expect them to put up another strong performance in this one.
These two teams only met up once in the regular season and it was on February 10 in Columbus. Nikita Kucherov opened up the scoring in the first, while Oliver Bjorkstrand tied it up in the second. Kucherov scored his second in overtime to give the Lightning the win. Brayden Point finished with two assists, while Curtis McElhinney stopped 31 of the 32 shots he faced in the 2-1 overtime win.
Game 1 of this series was a must watch game. Pierre-Luc Dubois had a goal and an assist for the Blue Jackets, but it was not enough. Brayden Point scored twice including the game winner in fifth overtime. Joonas Korpisalo stopped 85 of 88 shots he faced, while Andrei Vasilevskiy turned away 61 of 63 shots. The Lightning were able to sneak away with the 3-2 win.
Tampa Bay has needed overtime to knock off the Blue Jackets in both games this season. Game 1 of this series took over six hours to complete. These teams will be a bit tired coming into this one, so expect some mistakes early. If Columbus can capitalize on some early mistakes, I believe that they will be able to tie up this series.
During the regular season, the Blue Jackets were able to earn a 16.4 percent success rate on the power play, which was not great. Columbus’ penalty kill stopped opposing teams around 81.7 percent of the time. The Blue Jackets have only scored one power play goal since the playoffs started, but have killed off 88.2 percent of their opponent’s power play chances.
Tampa Bay had strong special teams play throughout the regular season. The Lightning earned a 23.2 percent power play rate with an 81.4 percent kill rate throughout the regular season. Tampa Bay has scored on 22.2 percent of their power play chances in the postseason. The Lightning have also killed off 87.5 percent of the penalties against them.
The Lightning have the better special teams in this series as the Blue Jackets have struggled to get any power play going in the postseason. Columbus and Tampa Bay have both had strong penalty kills in the postseason though, which will make getting a power play goal tough. If either team can break through on special teams, it could be enough to give them the edge.
Joonas Korpisalo will get another start in net for the Blue Jackets in this one. Korpisalo put up a record of 19-12-5 throughout the regular season. He earned a save percentage of .911 and a 2.60 GAA. In the playoffs, Korpisalo has put up an insane .960 save percentage and a GAA of 1.34. He will look to build off some momentum from Tuesday’s monster performance.
Andrei Vasilevskiy will get the nod in the crease for Tampa Bay in Game 2 of this series. Vasilevskiy earned a record of 35-14-3 throughout the regular season. He put up a .917 save percentage and a GAA of 2.56. In his four playoff starts, Vasilevskiy has a save percentage of .941 and a 1.62 GAA. He will look to keep up his strong play to give the Lightning a Game 2 win.
These two goalies had strong regular seasons, but have stepped up their game in a huge way since the postseason began. Korpisalo and Vasilevskiy are both coming off insane starts in which they faced a lot of shots. Both goalies will look to stay in that groove for Game 2. I expect the Blue Jackets to come out strong to help out Korpisalo after he was left to dry in Game 1.
These two teams met in an insane Game 1 and I expect another great game on Thursday afternoon. Both teams are already in a groove after basically playing two and a half games in Game 1. I think that Tortorella to have his team come out better in this matchup. Columbus has been a very resilient team and I believe that they will look to do better in this one.
BetOnline has Tampa Bay listed as a -166 against the money line in this one. This implies that the Lightning will win this game around 62.4 percent of the time. After watching Game 1 of this series, this line is just wrong. These two teams battled it out and as big underdogs, I think the Blue Jackets have a lot of value. Columbus should not be underrated and that makes them my pick of the night.