The NHL postseason officially kicks off Wednesday, April 10 for 16 of the league’s 31 teams. Two of those teams start in Tampa Bay when the 2018-2019 Presidents’ Trophy champions Tampa Bay Lightning host the Columbus Blue Jackets.
In their two meetings this season, Tampa Bay won by a combined margin of 9-1. The first of those two games the Lightning won 4-0. The second of those two was played in downtown Columbus and the Lightning won 5-1. That being said, the Blue Jackets were without their new accusations from the trade deadline.
The action takes place with games one and two both in Tampa Bay. Games three and four will be held in Columbus. Following those games; if necessary, games five and seven will be in Tampa Bay while game six comes back to Columbus.
Sergei Bobrovsky is expected to start for the Blue Jackets. Bobrovsky was 37-24-1 during the 2018-2019 season. He held a franchise record and league leading nine shutouts this season. In the playoffs he holds a record of 5-14-0 and a save percentage of .891%.
As for his counterpart, Andrei Vasilevskiy holds a league leading 39-10-4 record for 2018-2019. He also recorded six shutouts and a save percentage of .925%. Vasilevskiy’s playoff career consists of a record of 15-11-0 and goals against average of 2.68 in 26 games.
The Blue Jackets make their fifth all-time, and third consecutive playoff appearance in 2019. The previous two playoff appearances have resulted in losses.
First, in the 2016-2017 postseason the Pittsburgh Penguins, who would go on to win the Stanley Cup, defeated the Blue Jackets 4-1. In the 2017-2018 postseason, the Washington Capitals took the playoff series 4-2 over the Blue Jackets, and also proceeded to win the Stanley Cup.
As for the Tampa Bay Lightning, they make their eleventh postseason appearance. Last year the Lightning were defeated in the Eastern Conference Finals when the Washington Capitals eliminated them in a seven game series.
Hoping for more success, the Columbus Blue Jackets hope to advance into the second round, possibly the Eastern Conference Finals or even Stanley Cup Finals. The team has never advanced passed the first round.