Aftermath No. 28: Minnesota

Friday, 12.06.2013 / 10:45 PM / News
By Rob Mixer  - BlueJackets.com




Get 25% off your Papa John's order on Saturday, and FREE Bob Evans Chili thanks to Boone Jenner's goal!


Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said Friday morning that his team's puck management decisions would go a long way toward their success or failure against Minnesota. In order to establish their forecheck and put pressure on a Wild team that played the night before, the Blue Jackets had to be smart with their dump-ins and make the Wild's defensemen skate to retrieve pucks and made plays under duress.

Not only did the Blue Jackets do that, but when they created turnovers, they made sure to get the puck on goal.

When all was said and done, it was a convincing 4-0 win - their second straight shutout - and a season-high in shots on goal with 41, including 14 in the third period.

Could this be a team that's turning a corner? We'll find out over the next couple of weeks, but they are off to a strong start in the Curtis McElhinney era. They held a 2-0 lead after two periods, and rather than sit back and lull the Wild to sleep, the Blue Jackets kept going.

They got pucks deep, sent two guys in on the forecheck and forced the Wild into a ton of mistakes, which was one of their focal points heading into the game.

The penalty kill, which has struggled at times this season, helped turn the game around for Columbus. Back-to-back penalties in the second period gave Minnesota a 73-second two-man advantage and a hugemongous chance to get right back in the game - but the Blue Jackets never even let it approach "dangerous" status.

Derek MacKenzie
, Mark Letestu and Fedor Tyutin were on the ice for the entire 5-on-3 and turned what could have been a huge boost for Minnesota into a relative afterthought.

Here are some random thoughts, notes and observations...

- Columbus is now 23-20-4 all-time vs. Minnesota (15-7-1 at home). With tonight's win, the Blue Jackets are now 7-4-3 in their last 14 games and 4-1-1 in their last six home games. Not too shabby for a team that really struggled at home earlier in the season.

- Six points for the all-of-a-sudden red-hot line of Umberger, Johansen and Foligno; Umberger and Foligno each contributed a goal and an assist, and Johansen picked up a pair of assists to boost his team scoring lead. Johansen is now at 22 points (10 goals, 12 assists) in 28 games.

- Time to update this stat once more: Columbus is now 35-0-0 under Richards when leading after 40 minutes.

- Eight (8) shots on goal tonight for Cam Atkinson. Yes, that was tops among all players. 

- The Blue Jackets have quietly become one of the best face-off teams in the Eastern Conference (still feels weird typing that, but I'm getting used to it). They went 55 percent in the circle tonight and Dubinsky led the way going 8-for-12 (67 percent).

Only Johansen, at 40 percent, finished below the 50-50 mark among Jackets centers tonight, but he's still well above that watermark overall. 

- Man, has Blake Comeau played well of late. He's managing the puck well and has given the Blue Jackets a big boost on the cycle game. His ability to play on both wings and in all situations gives Richards another solid option up front, and his physical game has been noticebale in the last few games, as well. 

- McElhinney's shutout was the second of his career, his first as a Blue Jacket and first since Feb. 5, 2011 against the Colorado Avalanche when he played for Anaheim. 

- Wisniewski and Murray were each +3 on the night, part of a strong performance overall by that duo. As a group, the Blue Jackets' defense put forth one of its best efforts tonight, exiting the zone quickly and not making the high-risk passes that have occasionally resulted in turnovers and extended shifts.

- Tonight was Umberger's 400th game in a Blue Jackets sweater, and he's the fifth player in franchise history to reach that milestone. Not a bad way to celebrate.

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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