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Saturday, January 17, 2015

This Season Nobody Struggles Against the Blue Jackets Like the Bruins Do

Hey guys, I've got great news: the Bruins don't have to play the Blue Jackets anymore this season (assuming they don't meet in the playoffs)! This sounds like a joke and in a way it is but Columbus (19-21-3) went 2-0-1 against Boston (24-16-6) in 2014-15, capped off by tonight's 3-1 win at TD Garden that ended the Bruins' season-best five-game win streak.

The Blue Jackets play hard and they are somewhat speedy but they are so depleted by injuries that it's hard to explain how they previously beat Boston 6-2 and the Bruins' only win was a 4-3 shootout victory in Columbus. I don't get it, haha that's my scorching hot take. The B's had been playing really well lately so they were probably due for a stinker. This was eerily similar to earlier losses this campaign where their offense disappeared and they just didn't seem that into it.

Columbus has the No. 2 power play in the league, by far their biggest strength, so it stands to reason that you should do anything to keep them away from the man-advantage. All-Star Ryan Johansen scored his team-leading 17th goal at 7:57 of the first period when he roofed the puck over Tuukka Rask's (28 saves) glove. Jack Johnson and Scott Hartnell had the assists. That extended Johansen's NHL-best point streak to an absurd 13 games (8 goals, 7 assists). He is one of three Blue Jackets (Sergei Bobrovsky and Nick Foligno) that will represent the home team at next weekend's All-Star Game in Columbus.

Boston's lone highlight of this forgettable game was Carl Soderberg's tying goal at 11:34. He one-timed a pass from Chris Kelly that was tipped over by Loui Eriksson for his 10th goal of the season. That gives Boston four guys with double-digit goal totals (Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, Eriksson). Speaking of Marchand, this was the first of the two games that he'll miss for slew-footing Rangers forward Derick Brassard. The B's didn't lose because of his absence but clearly putting Daniel Paille in his spot is never a positive thing for them.

I thought we were going to be treated to a dull overtime but Matt Calvert scored the game-winning goal at 16:57 of the third period. BC's Cam Atkinson took a shot that Rask couldn't corral and Calvert was on the doorstep to shovel it in. Brandon Dubinsky assisted on his fifth goal of the season. Calvert also added the empty-netter at 19:22 that put this two points away.

I hadn't even mentioned until now that Columbus had played at home last night and lost 2-1 to the Rangers. Oh and Boston was treated to backup goaltender Curtis McElhinney (34 saves) but they somehow could not make the most of those favorable factors. The Bruins hit the road for a back-to-back on Tuesday and Wednesday: at Dallas (8:30, NESN) then at Colorado (10:30, NESN). Neither team is currently in the playoff picture in the West and both feature former Bruins that they miss dearly: Tyler Seguin and Jarome Iginla respectively. Boston needs at least two out of those four possible points to feel OK heading into the break. Their next home game isn't for two weeks: January 31 vs. Los Angeles.

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