Features

Special teams will be crucial for Jackets

Saturday, 09.14.2013 / 6:30 PM / Features
By Rob Mixer  - BlueJackets.com


There's no denying that, for long stretches last season, the Blue Jackets did not produce when they needed it. But with a couple of tweaks and better execution, they turned it into a weapon as they made a push for the postseason.

And with three days of practice in the books at Blue Jackets Training Camp presented by OhioHeath, the Blue Jackets have touched on special teams in each session but really hammered home some key points on Saturday morning. They worked on their puck movement, rotations and getting second chances around the net - at the same time giving the penalty killers an intense workout. 

Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards (and to a larger degree, the hockey operations staff) feel their power play should be better this season due to a couple of factors: one being the added personnel in Marian Gaborik for a full season and the offseason signing of Nathan Horton, but also more familiarity with each other.

It's not a coincidence that as the Blue Jackets became used to the new faces and new schemes, their results improved. By getting out in front of the issue in training camp, they're hoping it doesn't take 35 games to hit stride this season.

"We've talked about the effect (the power play) has on a game," Blue Jackets forward Mark Letestu said. "With some of the stats we had, our record was substantially better when we won or tied the special teams battle. There should be a focus on that. Every time you get a chance to score or keep one out of the net - especially against teams like Pittsburgh that are so dynamic - winning those battles goes a long way."

Letestu, who has played all three forward positions for the Blue Jackets and also the point on the power play, is a former Pittsburgh Penguin and he knows first-hand how a dangerous power play can be the engine for a team's success. When teams like the Penguins get a power play opportunity, they're looking to do damage and that's the attitude the Blue Jackets want to have on the man advantage.

They will get their first chance to put the preparation into practice on Sunday afternoon against the aforementioned Penguins, who won't bring Sidney Crosby to town but are dressing several NHL regulars. The preseason games might be dress rehearsals, Letestu said, but the Blue Jackets have to take them seriously if they want to hit the ground running on opening night.

"I think this is going to help ease use into the first exhibition game, and by exhibition game eight, we should be firing on all cylinders," Letestu said. "Especially with the way (Richards) has the lineups written up, there's going to be a lot of us playing. The expectation is that we're ready for Game 1 and we're preparing accordingly."

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
B. Dubinsky 4 1 5 1 6
J. Johnson 4 3 2 1 5
R. Johansen 4 2 3 0 5
B. Jenner 4 2 2 -2 4
M. Calvert 4 2 1 3 3
D. Savard 4 0 3 2 3
M. Letestu 4 1 1 -1 2
C. Atkinson 4 1 1 2 2
J. Wisniewski 4 0 2 -4 2
A. Anisimov 4 0 2 -1 2
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Bobrovsky 2 2 0 .900 3.22
 
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