Shortly before hopping on Blue Jackets Air and heading to the Canadian capital, the Blue Jackets convened at Nationwide Arena for a short, focused practice before their next back-to-back set.
Much of the effort today involved special teams, and the drills served dual purpose for both the power play units and the penalty killers. Under coach John Tortorella, the Blue Jackets have seen a noticeable improvement in both categories after a disastrous start, and the penalty kill has been leading the way.
The Blue Jackets’ penalty kill was porous and lacked confidence early in the season and opponents could almost sense it. Yielding a goal felt inevitable at times. But since the coaching change, the approach and attitude have been more assertive and confident, and credit goes to both Tortorella and assistant coach Brad Larsen for getting the players into a better frame of mind.
In the last nine games, the Blue Jackets have killed 29 of 32 penalties – a stretch that includes 17 in a row (an active streak). Tortorella is using multiple rotations of forwards and defensemen, and all groups are producing a similar result born from pressuring the puck carriers and being active and alert in dangerous areas.
They’re winning battles, freeing pucks, and even creating some odd-man chances going the other way.
BOLL ON THE SHELF
One blemish on Tuesday’s 3-1 win over the St. Louis Blues – the Blue Jackets’ third straight – was an injury to Jared Boll, who was honored in the first period for reaching the 500 games mark in his career.
All 500 of those games have been spent with the Blue Jackets, who selected Boll in the fourth round in 2005.
Boll blocked a shot in Tuesday’s game and will be sidelined with a lower body injury, Tortorella said today. The coach added that Boll has been placed on injured reserve, leaving the Blue Jackets’ active roster at 21 players.
UPDATE: The Blue Jackets recalled Michael Chaput from Lake Erie on Wednesday afternoon after Boll was officially placed on IR.
GREAT TIMING, RENTS
William Karlsson’s parents just missed one of his best games of the season, but in his mind, he’ll just have to go and do it again. No problem.
The Karlssons arrived Sunday night after a flight from Stockholm took them to New York and then on to Columbus, and they were on hand to see the Blue Jackets beat the Blues on Tuesday night at Nationwide Arena. They’ll be around for Friday’s game against Nashville before heading back to Sweden this weekend.
“They’re having a great time so far,” Karlsson said. “They’re really enjoying themselves and they had fun at the game (Tuesday). It’s good to have them around.”
ON CALL FOR THE RECALL
Josh Anderson joined the Blue Jackets for their noon practice today shortly after getting the call-up notice this morning. He's the latest recall to experience the benefit of being two-ish hours from the NHL club away rather than a cab, a flight and another cab from Columbus.
Anderson was able to hop in his car and make the trip down from Cleveland in time for practice, and a couple hours later, he was on the plane and off to Ottawa.
"It's definitely nice, and it's also a lot different," Anderson said. "I'm not used to being able to make the drive, but it was really easy."