Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Tom Reed of the Columbus Dispatch,
Hockey is the most unscripted of major sports, but it doesn’t mean the game lacks strategy, especially on faceoffs. Blue Jackets fans might have noticed this season their players talking more before draws and occasionally huddling.
The club is making a concerted effort to create more offense from faceoffs. Assistant coach Brad Larsen leads the campaign and offers a few set-play options before every game. Boone Jenner’s goal scored 13 seconds into Saturday night’s 3-2 shootout win over Arizona was a play Larsen presented to the squad in a pre-game meeting.
“First shift of the game we had a play we wanted to do and it worked to a T,” said Dubinsky, who won the opening faceoff to set a play in motion that caught the Coyotes napping. “It’s a rare chance to say, ‘Here’s the tendency of another team. They forecheck this way, they come out to the points that way. We’re going to try this and see if it works.’”
from Tom Reed of the Columbus Dispatch,
In this Season of Giving, the Blue Jackets have become absolutely miserly.
The club ran its winning streak to four games by limiting the Arizona Coyotes to 18 shots in a 4-1 victory at Nationwide Arena on Monday night.
The Blue Jackets have yielded more than 28 shots on goal only once since Nov. 15. In that stretch, they have gone 8-1-2 to vault into third place in the Metropolitan Division.
“The confidence level is going up and everyone trusts each other to do their jobs,” goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky said. “Everyone is just playing their roles and I think it helps make everyone calm on defense ... It’s day and night from (last season), you can see the shots going down.”
The Blue Jackets surrendered a first-period power-play, but gave the Coyotes few great looks on a night Columbus improved to 15-5-4.
The Blue Jackets entered play fifth in goals-against average at 2.19. In the past 11 games, they have allowed 1.91 goals per game.
Below are the game highlights
from Tom Reed of the Columbus Dispatch,
A month ago, Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said he planned to keep Sergei Bobrovsky’s number of starts to a manageable 58 to 60 this season.
Asked Monday if a goaltender who’s started all but two of 19 games could stay in the target range, Tortorella responded: “It’s doable.” Informed it would mean limiting his puck-stopping workhorse to roughly two of every three remaining games, the coach declared war on arithmetic.
“I don’t do the math . . . I’m not a numbers guy,” he said.
The good news for Tortorella and the Blue Jackets (11-5-4) is the goaltending “numbers” have been strong. The club ranks sixth in goals against average (2.27) and Bobrovsky’s statistics (2.15 GAA, .929 save percentage) are in line with his Vezina Trophy-winning season in 2013-14.
He’s also on pace to play about 72 games, which seems like an unsustainable pace for a goalie with a history of groin injuries and one who has never started more than 57 games.
“Bob is our No. 1 goalie and we’re going to monitor the situation very close . . . to make sure we don’t overload him or overwork him,” general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said. “But he’s going to play most of our games no matter who our backup is.”
via Aaron Portzline tweets,
Trotz was particularly upset about the highsticking call - Backstrom on Foligno - that led to #CBJ game-winning power play.
Trotz: "I hope the league looks at that. You see the replay. He doesn’t really touch him. (Foligno's) head pops up when Backy’s stick
is already on the way down. That’s just a little bit disrespectful to the game. the league will look at that. We have fines for ...
"... that. If that’s something that they took advantage of, I wouldn’t be too happy if I was the referee."
Watch the play below and the game winning power play goal too...
from Aaron Portzline of Puck-Rakers at the Columbus Dispatch,
Matt Calvert stood at his locker stall after the game, a Civil War-style kepi on his head, a bandage across his forehead and a growing welt around his right eye -- as if he just walked off the set of Glory.
Calvert wore something else, too: a smile.
The Blue Jackets’ third-line speedster left Friday’s 4-2 win over the New York Rangers midway through the second period after he was struck in the face by a slap shot, opening a nasty cut over his right eyebrow.
He returned to a rousing ovation from a crowd of 14,541 in Nationwide Arena early in the third period, then scored the game-winning short-handed goal – the Jackets’ first shorty this season – with 11:45 remaining to give the Blue Jackets' a signature win.
Two videos below, Calvert takes a puck to his head and the game-winning goal...
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
Now, though, with the Jackets preparing to meet the Rangers here Friday night, the old has become new again. And Columbus is thriving under this approach, 6-1-1 while scoring an aggregate 34 goals in the last eight games with 10- and 8-goal outbursts, and 8-4-3 overall.
And, as seems universal across the NHL, the Jackets’ success is being driven by young talent such as 19-year-old defenseman Zach Werenski, the eighth overall selection in the 2015 entry draft, and 22-year-old center Alexander Wennberg, the 14th selection in 2013 who has taken a bit more time to establish himself.
“I think I’ve learned to let guys go,” Tortorella said when asked about his journey back to the future. “I talked to our GM and our coaches and looked at the talent we have on the team plus the skilled guys we had coming from [AHL] Cleveland, and it became clear that that’s where we needed to go—to go with skill.
“Now, you still always need the grind. That part hasn’t changed. And ‘Safe is Death’ is not about not coming back and playing on the other side of the puck. It’s not just run-and-gun here. With guys we have on the back end like Werenski, it’s not always about chipping it in.
from Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch,
Rookie magician Zach Werenski scores the tying goal. Video coach Dan Singleton wins a replay challenge, erasing the Capitals’ potential winning goal. Demons, be gone. Brandon Dubinsky, bleeding from the nose, wins a faceoff and Cam Atkinson wins it in overtime. How about that? They did it again.
The Blue Jackets won 2-1 before a small-but-boisterous crowd at Nationwide Arena on Tuesday night. Their fans are not accustomed to this kind of thing, not at this time of year, but there it is. The Jackets have won six home games in a row. They have won six of their past eight overall.
They are getting dangerously close to being adoptable.
They have been criticized by at least one wayward columnist for their lack of a No. 1 center yet, to this point, Alexander Wennberg has been better than a reasonable facsimile. He was second in the league with 13 assists, right behind Connor McDavid, heading into Tuesday’s game. The whole power play runs through his halfwall.
Captain Nick Foligno has removed the anvil from his back and has been a force on and off the ice. He was 12th in the NHL in scoring with six goals and 10 assists entering the game. The third line — Matt Calvert-William Karlsson-Josh Anderson — has been consistently excellent.
On the defensive side, Seth Jones has taken his game up a couple of octaves.
Offensive Struggles Continue For The Washington Capitals In 2-1 OT Loss To The Columbus Blue Jackets
from Isabelle Khurshudyan of the Washington Post,
Against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night, with new forward trios once again, the Capitals scored one goal, giving them three five-on-five goals in their last four games. So, now what?
“It’s up to the group,” Trotz said. “I mean, everybody’s capable of offense. We’ve got to just generate. You know, some guys have got to find the back of the net. Some guys have got to be committed to trying to score. Right now, some guys are not committed enough to score, so they’re going to be on the outside. They’re not going to score.”...
The lines the team debuted at Columbus were taken as a message from Trotz that some skilled players need to start producing, and only Nicklas Backstrom did against the Blue Jackets with a goal in the second period. He scored again in the third period, but it was then disallowed after Columbus successfully challenged it was offsides.
Captain Alex Ovechkin, playing with grinding, defensive center Jay Beagle, played just 14:12, the second-lowest time on ice he’s logged in his career in a full game. The only time he played less, he was a rookie and was five games into his career. Ovechkin is second on the team in scoring with seven goals and four assists, but he doesn’t have a point in four straight games.
Game highlights are below...
from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch,
More than two years after news of his personal financial crisis rocked the hockey world, Columbus Blue Jackets player Jack Johnson has reached a settlement in bankruptcy court with six of his eight creditors.
Johnson, 29, has liquidated two homes — one in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the other in Manhattan Beach, California — as well as a Ferrari valued at $125,000, and he will be, according to one creditor, “the lowest-paid player in the NHL for the next two seasons.”
As part of the agreement, filed by Judge John E. Hoffman Jr. in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Columbus on Thursday, Johnson will turn over most of his $5 million annual salary from the Blue Jackets both this season and next, keeping only a negotiated sum for “living expenses.”
from Aaron Portzline of Puck-Rakers,
Tortorella marveled at how Werenski pushed through in a game that was, at times a struggle. It's easy for young players -- especially defensman -- to get down when the game tries to humble them.
He also marveled at Werenski's game-winner.
“I’d like to see how many players in this league could get it backhand to forehand in the net as quickly as he did on that goal,” Tortorella said. "There are some great young players in this game, and you hear their names all the time. We have a defenseman. To me, that's a key position in our game. To have a kid like that, who I thought struggled at times tonight, but he makes a huge play right there."
more on the Blue Jackets 3-2 OT win over the Ducks...
Watch Werenski's OT goal below...
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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