Blue Jackets confident heading into Game 6
History doesn't favor the Columbus Blue Jackets. Neither does conventional wisdom.
Yet the youngest team in these Stanley Cup playoffs couldn't care less. The Blue Jackets, as center Ryan Johansen put it, are not “uncomfortable.”
Down 3-2 and facing elimination in this best-of-seven series, Columbus needs a win Monday to stay alive and force Game 7 at Consol Energy Center on Wednesday night.
“I don't think anyone in this room would say they're uncomfortable going into this next game,” Johansen said. “Like we've been saying, we believe we can get this done.
“We're going to have a great crowd waiting for us there at Nationwide (Arena). It's about us going out there, executing and getting the job done.”
Which is something the Blue Jackets felt like they didn't do during a 3-1 loss to the Penguins on Saturday.
Columbus failed to establish much of anything offensively; the lack of forecheck and sustained pressure resulted in 51 shots allowed.
Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky kept the game close, and many felt ‘Bob' deserved a better fate.
“It was one of those performances where you come into an opposing rink, that's the game your goaltender can steal for you,” Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. “We just weren't able to do enough in the offensive zone.”
Part of that was evident on the power play. After averaging five man-advantage opportunities through the first four games, Columbus had just 2 minutes, 4 seconds on two chances Saturday.
“We spent a lot of time chasing,” center Brandon Dubinsky said. “Against a team like this, you're not going to win too many games that way.”
As one of the few Columbus players with any significant playoff experience, Dubinsky knows what it takes to win in the postseason.
Which is why he stressed staying positive following Game 5, the fifth time this series that the winning team came from behind.
“We talk about the resiliency and resolve in here,” Dubinsky said. “I think we'll come back better and stronger in Game 6.”
Richards knows that Penguins coach Dan Bylsma, much like he did Saturday, will try to play forwards Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin together.
Though unlike games in Pittsburgh, when Bylsma has enjoyed the luxury of keeping Crosby away from Dubinsky, Richards has the last change and can get the matchup he wants.
The Blue Jackets were in the playoffs one other time; they were swept by the Red Wings in 2009.
That series was so lopsided — an 18-7 combined score — that it didn't provide for many gut-check moments like the one the Blue Jackets will face Monday.
For left wing R.J. Umberger, a Plum native, the mission is simple.
“Our backs are against the wall,” Umberger said. “It's time for us to go back home and win a game.”
Richards said he read about how Bylsma called out his players Thursday.
Now, he's hoping for something similar from his group.
“The coach challenged them, and they responded,” Richards said. “We have to do the same thing on Monday.”
Jason Mackey is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @Mackey_Trib.
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