Columbus Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards acknowledged after his team's practice Tuesday that its play has been improved lately. But he repeatedly stated that the Blue Jackets' focus was on their home game Tuesday against the Vancouver Canucks, not their five-game win streak, which is tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins for the NHL's longest current run.
"We've been fortunate enough to win some games, but this is our next biggest game," Richards said. "Our focus has to be on [Tuesday] and nothing else. When this one's over, we'll get ready for the next one. Our guys have done a good job focusing and managing that part of it. We can never get ahead of ourselves."
Though he was reluctant to discuss the streak, Richards had no problem applauding one of the players who has helped lead that run. After recording four wins, a 0.77 goals-against average and a .972 save percentage in his past four games, goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky was named the NHL's First Star of the Week on Monday. It's an honor Richards said he believes was well-deserved.
"I know [Sidney] Crosby had a big week, too, but watching firsthand what Bobby [Bobrovsky] was able to do was great for our hockey team," Richards said. "What that does is it gives everyone else confidence. You don't have to be as worried about making a mistake because the puck may end up in your net."
Also adding to the Blue Jackets' good fortune is the news Tuesday that center Brandon Dubinsky was activated from injured reserve and will play for the first time since Feb. 16. In 15 games this season, Dubinsky has one goal and seven assists, although he had points in three straight games prior to his injury.
"He's a player who can provide some energy and some offense," Richards said of Dubinsky. "He was playing extremely well before he got hurt. We just want to get him back to that level. He can't come in and try to do too much and think he needs to be the difference. He just needs to add to our team and the way that we're playing right now."