In the post-game press conference Jon Cooper is asked “Are you stunned by this?” His answer is a disjointed response that ultimately results in showing how completely stunned he is by the position he finds his team. Here is video, check out his response at 7:40 of this video:
His reaction is similar to the fan bases of both teams in this series. TBL fans are stunned to find their team down 3-0 after winning a record 62 games I the regular season. CBJ fans are stunned to be on the brink of watching their team advance in the playoffs for the first time in the 19-year history of the franchise. And even more stunned by the 3-0 series lead against the clear #1 team in the NHL coming into the playoffs.
As stunned (and excited) as fans in Columbus find themselves, this series is not over quite yet.
John Tortorella: "I'm happy about the way we've gone about our business…We have a lot of work to do. We've got to be really careful here."*
How are the Jackets doing this?
For the past 8 periods of hockey Columbus has done nothing short of control the game. At the end of Game 3 TBL finally applied some sustained pressure that the CBJ defense and goaltending was able to withstand.
A few things stand out when watching these three games. First, is the Jackets team defense. With the exception of the first period of Game 1 there has been a commitment from all players on the ice to limit scoring chances. CBJ passing has greatly improved. They have used quality outlet passes exiting the zone to negate the speed of Tampa. Better passing has also resulted in a significant reduction in turnovers. Superior goaltending has certainly been on the side of the Jackets. Vasilevskiy has given up 11 goals in 3 games for a 3.73 GAA and .866 save percentage. That stat line reads like “Playoff Bob” stats circa 2017. In contrast the numbers for Sergei read: 3 wins, 5 goals against, 1.67 GAA and .940 save percentage.
As Jon Cooper reminded us in his stunned answer there is a game scheduled for Tuesday night. And it is the first time that the Columbus Blue Jackets are presented with the opportunity to close out a series and move on to the second round.
Any believers out there yet?
Have the Lightning choked thus far or are the Jackets really the better team?