WJC 2013: Jenner part of Canada's strength at center

Tuesday, 12.18.2012 / 6:00 PM
By Rob Mixer - BlueJackets.com / CBJ Today

If there was ever a "knock" on Boone Jenner, some say he could become a more explosive skater. One summer changed that perception.

While his intangibles have always been off the charts and his competitive edge likely unparalleled among his peers, Jenner went into the last offseason looking to become a bit quicker and powerful in his skates, and he's started to see dividends.

The hope was that he could use the added speed to be better on the forecheck and take advantage of mistakes -- and that killer instinct is a big reason why he's the leading goal scorer in the Ontario Hockey League. Jenner, 19, is having his most productive offensive season to date, with 27 goals and 47 points in 32 games for the Oshawa Generals.

Next up is the World Junior Hockey Championship in Ufa, Russia, and it's likely Jenner will be playing an even larger role for Canada than he did a year ago. At last year's tournament, Jenner was mostly a bottom-six guy who killed penalties and saw some occasional ice time on the power play; but with a distinct increase in goal-scoring this year, it will be tough for head coach Steve Spott to leave Jenner out of offensive situations.

"You've seen him do it in junior this year for his Oshawa club," Blue Jackets president of hockey operations John Davidson told BlueJackets.com last week. "He's scoring some goals, and he's a real mature player for his age group. He can be a key face-off guy for them, and maybe play a defensive role as a center man."

Strength at center ice is a Team Canada hallmark, so it's no surprise they were thrilled to learn the Edmonton Oilers were loaning Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for the World Junior. He's a game-changer and one of the brightest young playmakers in the game, giving Spott a legitimate No. 1 center at the top of his lineup card.

In a recent interview with Hockey Canada's website, Spott said one of their goals in selecting the team was to have a strong group of players at center who can skate well.

“When I interviewed for this job, that was one of the questions they asked me,” Spott said. “That was my first answer. ‘I want to be a team that can skate.’

“When we get over there against the U.S., obviously the Russians and the Swedes, the Finns, these teams can absolutely fly. We have to be able to keep up and compete. Speed was key.”

In referring to "over there," Spott is talking about Russia, where the tournament will be played on the larger ice surface. For a coach, that means skating and hockey skills are at a premium since the game is a bit less physical than in North America.

With other talented centers like Jenner, Ryan Strome and Philip Danault on this year's squad, Spott thinks he has a balanced group that will allow Canada to play a fast, versatile game against all types of opponents.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 PLAYOFFS
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Johnson 1 1 1 0 2
D. MacKenzie 1 1 0 0 1
M. Letestu 1 1 0 1 1
B. Dubinsky 1 0 1 1 1
B. Jenner 1 0 1 -1 1
F. Tyutin 1 0 0 -1 0
J. Wisniewski 1 0 0 0 0
B. Comeau 1 0 0 -1 0
N. Nikitin 1 0 0 0 0
J. Skille 1 0 0 -1 0
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Bobrovsky 0 1 0 .875 4.07
 
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