Blue Jackets Go All Tortszilla on Lightning; Now Lead Series, 3-0
In last year's Stanley Cup first-round playoffs, the Columbus Blue Jackets surprised Washington's Capitals, quickly going up in the series, 2-0.
Then Alexander Ovechkin & Crew got serious.
This spring, the Jackets are back again, trying to win their first-ever playoff series, and now they're holding a 3-0 lead on a Cup favorite.
Shades of Bum Phillips:
The Tampa Bay Lightning have been a machine all season.
They clinched the Presidents Trophy after only 72 games, so they had time to hold an in-season, on-ice ceremony:
But as they say, past performance is no guarantee of future results, and there's a pile of precedent to prove it.
They were actually the favorites then, but dudes had a 'tude that made them play like underdogs.
Tortorella's style is intense and in-your-face, and that's with his players. It often leads to burnout and tuneout after a couple of seasons, as it did with the 'Ning, Rangers, and Canucks.
So far the past couple of seasons, the Jackets are still tuned in.
Last spring, the Jackets won their first two games against the Capitals at home, with goalie Sergei Bobrovsky standing on his head.
This spring, their first two wins against the Lightning happened on the road, so dudes liked their chances in Game 3, and they were backed it up with a 3-1 victory:
Here's the history:
Tampa Bay's been held to one power play so far in this series while Columbus has gone 4-for-8. That's only scratching the surface, too ...
- Big guns like Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov have no points in three games.
- Of course, Kucherov can't score in street clothes after a super-stupid penalty cost him a suspension for Game 3.
- It's also looking grim for key reinforcements in Game Four, as well.
The LIghtning have seen Torts' strategy against them enough to know what's coming. Dudes haven't lost four in a row all season. It's still hard to believe they'll start now.
As noted, Columbus has history on their side, and they're out to make history by claiming this series.
Torts has them so wound up, it's long odds Tampa Bay will break their will. But they'd sure as hell better match it.