As fans it is easy to get caught up in the 'this is the most important game in Blue Jackets history' hype. It's great to be excited for a game, it's also great that Columbus is playing meaningful hockey on May 4th. Torts will have the players focused on the task at hand and not listening to all the noise surrounding this game.
This series is far from over, most believe it will go to Game 7. Neither team is any better off than before the series started. Boston has home ice advantage, no serious injuries have come about from the first 4 games (exception: Nash) and both teams are playing 'their game'. Instead of a 7-game-series it comes down to 3 games for the chance to move on and face the 'Canes who swept the NYI last night.
What Has Worked
Forechecking leads to turnovers, turnovers lead to zone time, zone time leads to scoring chances, scoring chances lead to goals. Yes, yes, sounds like the wise words of Master Yoda (it is Star Wars Day, May the 4th be with you). When the CBJ forecheck is clicking good things follow.
Discipline play. We learned what happens to team in the playoffs who take too many penalties. Eventually the Boston PP was going to burn the Jackets and they did in Game 4. The other part of discipline play is playing strong team defense. Boston's first goal on Thursday was a direct result of a CBJ defenseman throwing a thundering hit in the neutral zone, but then being out of position and allowing a scoring chance. Checking is good, but not when you sacrifice positioning and solid defense to do so.
Cashing in on opportunities. The team that makes the most of their opportunities will win tonight. That is a little like saying the team that scores more goals will win tonight. While the CBJ took some untimely penalties on Thursday, so did Mr. Marchand. Had Boone scored on the penalty shot or the Jackets convert a PP the score would have been tied. Consequently Marchand's penalties didn't hurt BOS, they kept the lead, then extended their lead and captured victory in Game 4.
Manage the forward and D lines. When 4th liners are on the ice for less than 8 minutes in a game and your third d-pair is only logging 10 minutes you are relying on your top guys too much too early in the game. Realizing the Jackets were down 2 early and the needed to press to get back into the game an unwillingness to trust the 4th line and 3rd pair early resulted in top lines that were fatigued late in the game.
Conclusion: To win Game 5 play a simple hard game. Trust all you players to make discipline plays. Score more goals than Boston. Sounds easy enough.
Looks like Nash is back in and Texier is scratched.
No word on injured defensemen coming back yet.
Boston is mixing up their PP putting Krejci out with PP1 in an attempt to limit SH chances by the Jackets.
Just a hunch, but if Dzingel gets any amount of ice time look for him to make things happen. He has something to prove and will be hungry for more playing time.
What's your prediction? Do the Jackets take Game 5? Will this series go 7?