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Aftermath No. 20: Ottawa

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

Todd Richards has talked a couple of times this season about getting back to playing "Blue Jackets hockey," and that's what he led off his post-game press conference with Sunday afternoon in Ottawa.

Unlike some of their previous road games, the Blue Jackets did a much better job of managing the puck today against the Senators.

It gave them an increased number of opportunities both on the power play and at even strength; compared to Tuesday in Washington (and to a lesser extent, Thursday in Boston), the Blue Jackets spent a lot of time in the Senators' zone today and it seemed to wear on the Ottawa defense.

The highlight of the day, though, was easily the Jackets' special teams - on both sides of the coin. Their power play was 3-for-5 and the penalty kill was spotless until a late 5-on-3 goal by Erik Karlsson.

The key? Work. Derek MacKenzie led the charge and had one stand-out shift on the PK when he blocked three shots in the same sequence, and the rest of the group followed his lead. 

Nick Foligno, playing his first game against the team that drafted him, said post-game that the Blue Jackets can do great things when they have everyone on the same page.

They didn't have any passengers in this game, and they made sure that they dictated things right from the opening face-off.

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

- Another solid performance by the Jackets' defensemen and Ryan Murray in particular. He made a great play on the first goal, corraling the puck and getting it over to Johansen. He also led all players with six blocked shots.

- With Boone Jenner back in the lineup, you couldn't help but notice what his energy and presence on the forecheck does for the Blue Jackets' game.

He's always hunting down pucks and bringing energy on the forecheck, and there aren't many opposing defensemen who are big fans of No. 38.

- Richards had to think for a moment when asked to assess Bobrovsky's performance, but his main thought was that the Blue Jackets were much better in front of their goaltender - and he's spot-on.

Many of the Senators' 30 shots were one-and-done chances and there wasn't a lot of chaos around the net. The Senators only generated sustained pressure in the final six minutes of regulation, when the Blue Jackets ran into some penalty trouble.

- The Blue Jackets, the league's sixth-best face-off team entering the game, won 52 percent of the draws in the game and were able to play with the puck and not chase the game.

When they had to chase, their forecheck was very good.

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