Game 2 Look Ahead: Blue Jackets’s ability to make it a tough night for Fleury
Marc Andre Fleury has not made consecutive starts since January 8, more than three months ago.
Tonight he makes his second straight playoff start with Matt Murray on the shelf and regardless of whether Fleury shuts the Blue Jackets out or give up five goals tonight, he’ll be making a third straight start Sunday in Game 3.
The Penguins while mum on a timeline for Matt Murray, are certain Murray’s going to miss at least the next two games, but could be an option to play late in the series, sources say.
This has a chance of being Marc Andre Fleury’s series from the obvious that Matt Murray’s injured or if Fleury gets red-hot and runs off some consecutive wins, the Penguins could opt to wait things out with Murray even if he’s ready play a little earlier than anticipated.
Winning game 1 in the manner the Penguins did with a dominant defensive effort, it puts the pressure on the Blue Jackets tonight.
What makes the NHL playoffs great is the game-by-game adjustments and the desperation teams bring when down in a series.
What we knew before puck drop Wednesday night is the Penguins even without Kris Letang and their No. 1 goaltender, are still a better hockey club than the Blue Jackets and that’s what really amps up tonight’s game where even if the Blue Jackets lose, they have find some cracks in the Penguins game that could carry over when the series shifts to Columbus or this will be a very short series as in four or five games.
And what the last two periods of Game 1 did is put the pressure on the Blue Jackets to make adjustments offensively coming into tonight.
The Penguins despite a blueline that can get physically pushed around, they negated the Blue Jackets biggest strength of playing aggressive below the dots because of how well the Penguins collapsed to the middle and gave no time and space inside the circles.
The Blue Jackets have talked about adjustments but John Tortorella is trying to make it clear they’re not going to change their identity.
“When you lose your first game, I think your identity is more to the forefront than anything. We’re not going to lose who we are,” John Tortorella said of his hockey club.
To go with just 4 high danger chances created, on 32 shots on goal, the Blue Jackets averaged distance was 40 feet in Game 1 and they only had 5 shots on goal that were 23 feet or less.
There might have only been one instance, (in the first period) where the Blue Jackets had a second chance opportunity that Fleury and the Penguin defenders in front couldn’t track the puck and that was on a play in the first period that the Jackets couldn’t hammer home when they had a wide open net on a puck hanging out near the left post.
All the Blue Jackets have talked about the last day and a half is creating traffic, getting chances in the blue paint.
“You have to pay the price to get to the blue paint,” Scott Harnetll said via the Columbus Dispatch. “We had some opportunities, but not the one’s with traffic, where he’s looking for pucks and not seeing them. Pittsburgh collapsed five guys. They do a great job of getting sticks in passing lanes when we made extra passes. They were willing to sacrifice the body, which is what you have to do this time of the year.”
Will the Jackets look to be more patient and wait for lanes to open up?
Penguin coaches are not expecting Columbus to change much from an offensive attack standpoint but they are anticipating Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"