Features

Getting Comfortable in Columbus

New Blue Jackets defenseman Sami Lepisto is settling in with his new club and learning a different playing style

Friday, 03.18.2011 / 3:41 PM / Features
By Rob Mixer  - BlueJackets.com
When he got the news on February 28, Sami Lepisto wasn’t sure what to expect.

The 26-year-old native of Espoo, Finland was headed from the Phoenix Coyotes to the Blue Jackets, and he wasn’t going alone. Teammate Scottie Upshall came with him in the deadline-day deal and both players have made significant contributions to their new club.

But as a defenseman, the transition was slower for Lepisto. He was coming to a team with a different style of play and a new structure for the defense.

"Any time you come to a new team, there is a lot that changes," Lepisto told BlueJackets.com. "In Phoenix, they were more of a defensive-minded team and the defensemen don't join the play as much.

"When I came (to Columbus) the coaches are always telling us to get up in the play and create some offense. It's been a good change for me."

And that change took effect right away. He and Upshall fell victim to travel delays and didn't arrive in Vancouver to meet the Blue Jackets until the afternoon of a game day.

Lepisto was in the lineup against the Canucks that night, and played 21:46 in his debut.

In the games since, he has seen his ice time increase and his responsibilities evolve. He has played 19-plus minutes in three of the past four games and is a +3 in the last six games overall.

Lepisto has earned power-play time from the coaching staff, and had three shots in a 2-0 loss to Detroit on Thursday.

"Any defenseman will tell you that they want to play more minutes," Lepisto. "With each game, I think I've played better and I'm seeing some power-play time, too."

Blue Jackets head coach Scott Arniel sees a player that has stepped up his play as his comfort level with new surroundings has blossomed.

"I think there was an adjustment period for him, but defense is a harder position to play,” Arniel told BlueJackets.com. "If you ask any player to be more offensive than defensive, you're going to get more positive vibes from them.

"It's been a little bit of trail by fire with the situation we're in, but he's done a good job of adapting and playing the style we want to play."

A trade is a two-fold scenario for a player. Lepisto joined the Blue Jackets on the road and had time to bond with his teammates away from Columbus, but when they came home after a 10-day road trip, he had a new city to call home and learn about. So far, he likes what he has seen from Ohio's capital city.

"I really like the city, and I didn't know much about it before I got here," Lepisto said. "The people are very kind and humble – that's what I noticed right away."

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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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