Columbus will be looking to repeat last year’s matchup where they swept the Lightning in four games, marking their first playoff series victory in franchise history.
The Blue Jackets have proven to be a “blue-collar” team over the past two seasons.
In their best-of-five series against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Columbus came out strong with a 2-0 win over the playoff-hungry Leafs. But with the series at 2-1, they blew a three-goal lead in the final four minutes of what would be a 4-3 overtime loss in Game 4. The Leafs forced a Game 5 but Columbus was able to seamlessly solidify their spot in the playoffs with a 3-0 win.
“It’s a group that we don’t do it easy, the easy way," head coach John Tortorella said. “As I said to you guys earlier today, we just try to go out and play. I’m proud of them.”
But Lightning head coach Jon Cooper isn’t going to underestimate his opponent going into the first round.
“If blue-collar means a hard-working team, they are. But they don’t have blue-collar talent,” he told reporters on Monday. “They have blue-chip talent.”
“What happened last year, happened last year. That’s in the history books forever,” Cooper added. “I wouldn’t call them a blue-collar team. I’d call them a really good team.”
WHAT TO KNOW
Game 1: Aug. 11, 3 p.m. ET
Game 2: Aug. 13, 3 p.m. ET
Game 3: Aug. 15, 7:30 p.m. ET
Game 4: Aug. 17, 3 p.m. ET
Game 5 (if necessary): Aug. 19, TBD
Game 6 (if necessary): Aug. 21, TBD
Game 7 (if necessary): Aug. 22, TBD
WHERE: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, Canada
TV: Fox Sports Ohio, NBC Sports, Florida Sports Sun
WHO'S MISSING? Lightning Captain Steven Stamkos has been out since sustaining a lower-body injury before the start of training camp last month. And defenseman Victor Hedman’s status is uncertain after the Norris Trophy finalist appeared to twist his right ankle in a 4-1 loss to Philadelphia on Saturday.
Tortorella ruled out goalie Elvis Merzlikins from Game 1. That means the Blue Jackets will start Joonas Korpisalo, who is coming off a 33-save outing in Columbus’ 3-0 Game 5 win over Toronto on Sunday night. Korpisalo also shut out Toronto in Game 1, but was yanked for Merzlikins after allowing three goals on 15 shots in Game 3.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.