Boston Bruins, Charlie McAvoy, Columbus Blue Jackets, John Tortorella, Top Story, Tuukka Rask

Lack of Consistency Sends Blue Jackets to Brink

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The third period on Saturday night between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Boston Bruins will go down as one for the ages. The period started 1-0. It ended 4-3 in regulation for the Bruins.

Those 10 minutes in the third were wild. From goals to a long replay review, from momentum swings to David Pastrnak making his mark on the series, and from close calls to Charlie McAvoy sealing the win, there were so many moments to choose from in those final 10 minutes that it would take a long time to recap.

But I am not here to discuss those final 10 minutes as crazy as they were. No, the Blue Jackets have a much larger issue at hand as we approach Game 6. While the Blue Jackets played hungry and desperate for those 10 minutes, they did nothing of the sort for the first 50 minutes.

They allowed the Bruins to control the play for most of that time. And when the Blue Jackets had chances, Tuukka Rask was there to answer.

If the Columbus Blue Jackets hope to get to a Game 7 and beyond this season, they must get to their game from the start. They need to play with a lead. They are much better for it.

Give credit where it is due. The Bruins have a lot to do with the Blue Jackets’ consistency issues. The Bruins are one of the few teams that can answer the physical challenge of the Blue Jackets while having skill to boot. Patrice Bergeron’s line has found their groove. Brad Marchand scored a big goal in the third period. And Pastrnak scored twice including the game-winning goal late.

But the Blue Jackets are only down 3-2 in the series. All they need to worry about is finding a way to win Game 6. Don’t look ahead, don’t look back. They have one job. They must win. But if they play like the first 50 minutes of Game 5, this series is over.

I expect a huge response given their backs are against the wall and it’s their first elimination game of the playoffs.

What else should we takeaway from Game 5? We have to discuss the John Tortorella guarantee.

Tortorella Promises Game 7

We’ve heard this story before, right? Just last season, Tortorella said the exact same thing after an overtime loss in Game 5 to the Washington Capitals. “We will be back here for Game 7.

Except the Capitals won Game 6 and then went on to win the Stanley Cup Final.

Why is Tortorella going down this road? Let’s not make something of it it’s not. First, what else is he going to say? He’s the one who speaks for the team. Of course he’s going to say this. Whether he says this or not, it’s still up to the players. But this comment reinforces just how much he believes in this team.

Second, it reinforces the belief that the Blue Jackets are capable of winning two in a row. They did win Games 2 and 3 in this series. The Bruins are not out of the woods yet. The Blue Jackets have fight left in them and will leave it all out there. It’s now on them to deliver for their coach.

John Tortorella Columbus Blue Jackets
John Tortorella believes in his team. That’s why he promised Game 7. (Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports)

Tuukka Rask Shines

The reason this series is 3-2 Bruins is because of Tuukka Rask. He shined in Game 4 and it carried over to Game 5 until the third period. That period of time was enough to turn a 2-1 Blue Jackets lead into a 3-2 Bruins lead.

Rask has been the better goaltender in this series. Bobrovsky has been good. Rask has been better. While most of the attention has gone to Bobrovsky and shedding his earlier playoff struggles, Rask is turning back the clock and playing like a man with something to prove. He’s good too.

Bruins’ fans, some of them anyway, have jumped on Rask for previous struggles. He’s been nothing short of spectacular in this series and one of the reasons why the Bruins are a Cup favorite.

Charlie McAvoy Getting It Done

Earlier in the series, Charlie McAvoy was noticeable both offensively and defensively. He would jump into the play with speed creating offense. Then the next moment he’s playing ferocious defense and retrieving the puck.

But it was what he did in the dying seconds Saturday that could be remembered for some time.

He went into the shooting lane and blocked an Artemi Panarin shot in the skate to save the win. He was in obvious pain and struggled to the bench. His teammates showed how appreciative they were of the moment. Postgame, McAvoy seemed ok. It hurt but in a good way, he said.

That’s the kind of sacrifice it takes to win. The Bruins have a good one in McAvoy for many seasons to come. He’s dangerous at both ends and extremely fun to watch.

Charlie McAvoy, Boston Bruins
Charlie McAvoy’s block may go down in Bruins’ lore someday. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Gavrikov’s Debut and 11-7 Lineup

The good news? Vladislav Gavrikov looked like he belonged on the big stage. He played over 14 minutes and looked calm and composed. Don’t expect to see him come out anytime soon.

The bad news? Why 11-7? I get some forwards are struggling and it does allow for double shifting to give different looks.

Adam Clendening played three minutes. THREE. Now you’re down a forward in a crucial game. I just don’t understand this decision especially in a series as bruising and tiring as it is. You need four lines. Let’s hope the Blue Jackets have some energy left. If they don’t, this decision looks worse. Can’t wait to hear why this decision was made.

Game 6 is Monday. Will we get a Game 7 or will we see the start of an extremely interesting offseason for the Blue Jackets? It depends if they decide to bring their consistency to Monday’s game.

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