The Columbus Blue Jackets have the best record in the NHL, something not even the most passionate CBJ fans could have envisioned at the start of the season.
What’s behind Columbus’ surprising success?
During 5-on-5 play, the Blue Jackets have the fourth-highest shooting percentage and third-best save percentage. Starting goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, whose only elite season came in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign, has a .935 save percentage in 28 starts. He’s been sensational, to say the least.
Columbus’ offense also has been red hot. It ranks second in goals scored per game and first in power-play percentage.
Will the Blue Jackets regress a bit? Almost certainly, yes. Bobrovsky isn’t this good, and we shouldn’t expect some of the team’s forwards to shoot well above their career shooting percentages for an entire season. CBJ also is an average possession team with a 5-on-5 Corsi For percentage just above 50.
Still, this is a gritty, structured team that doesn’t need to score much when Bobrovsky is on fire in net. The Bruins cannot allow any cheap, early goals and expect to win Tuesday night at Nationwide Arena in Columbus.
Here are the projected lineups for both teams.
BOSTON BRUINS (18-14-4)
Brad Marchand–Patrice Bergeron–David Pastrnak
Ryan Spooner–David Krejci–David Backes
Frank Vatrano–Austin Czarnik–Riley Nash
Anton Blidh–Dominic Moore-Jimmy Hayes
Zdeno Chara–Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug–Adam McQuaid
Kevan Miller–Colin Miller
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS (23-5-4)
Brandon Saad–Alexander Wennberg–Nick Foligno
Boone Jenner–Brandon Dubinsky–Cam Atkinson
Matt Calvert–William Karlsson–Josh Anderson
Scott Hartnell–Lukas Sedlak–Sam Gagner
Zach Werenski–Seth Jones
Jack Johnson–David Savard
Ryan Murray–Markus Nutivaara
Thumbnail photo via Aaron Doster/USA TODAY Sports Images