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Jenner's star shining brightest during Blue Jackets' playoff run

Forward thriving amid physical series vs. Boston

by Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider /

Boone Jenner would rather block a shot with his face than talk about himself.  

A farm boy from just outside of London, Ontario, all he knows is hard work. In many ways, if Don Cherry could will a hockey player into existence, it would be Jenner -- tough, dependable, a throwback, able to defend and score with equal aplomb, and without a hint of selfishness about him. 

Those attributes play best in playoff hockey, especially the war that the Blue Jackets' second-round series against Boston has become. In this environment, Jenner's star shines brightest, including with the goal he scored in the first period to spark Columbus' 2-1 victory in Game 3 on Tuesday night that gave the Jackets a series lead on the Bruins. 

"It was awesome," longtime teammate Nick Foligno said of Jenner's play. "I thought Booner played unbelievable. He's tailor-made for playoff hockey. He thrives in this, and just the way he competed on pucks and skated -- that's the best I've seen him skate, the way he held on to things and created opportunities for himself and his linemates. 

"What a goal he scores, too. You need that. He's a leader for a reason. He drives the engine and he definitely did that tonight." 

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Jenner's opening goal late in the first was an individual effort of beauty, as he came into the zone on the right side, cut back to the middle to open space on defenseman Connor Clifton, then fired back to his right to cross up Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask and set Nationwide Arena into a frenzy. 

Video: BOS@CBJ, Gm3: Jenner buries wrister from the slot

That was far from all Jenner did on the night, though. He twice created other scoring chances in the second period by steaming to the net like a freight train. On one, Cam Atkinson swiped his rebound just wide of the open net, sliding it through the crease behind Rask before Jenner's follow-up try was kept out by Zdeno Chara, and on another Jenner carted the puck to the cage, switched to his backhand and nearly flipped the puck over Rask, who just got a piece of it to send it over the bar. 

They're the actions of a player who is feeling it right now. In a series made for men of a hearty cloth, Jenner has thrived, totaling 15 shots on goal in the first three games while adding 14 hits and five blocked shots. His line with wingers Brandon Dubinsky and Riley Nash has set the tone for how the Jackets have had to play against a rugged Boston team. 

Yet Jenner remains a man of few words, at least if the words are about himself. You get the sense if he were named James, he'd eschew the nickname Jim because there's an "i" in it. 

Instead, when asked about where the first-period goal in Game 3 ranked in his career, Jenner focused on the team. 

"Our start wasn't all there, I don't think for us, but after that (penalty) kill, I think it gave us a little momentum," he said. "To score that first one is obviously huge, so it was a big one." 

Video: Jenner says the win was gutsy

On making an outsized impact in the series, Jenner simply said, "I just try to bring what I can bring, and I got a couple of chances tonight and was able to get that first one." 

To his teammates, that's what makes Jenner himself. It's also why he's a team alternate captain, an honor he's held since 2015. 

"There's one guy who has always been about the team," Foligno said. "That's why he got an 'A' at such a young age. He has always done whatever is necessary, whatever is asked of him. That's why he's so well respected in this room. It's never been about him. It's about what is going to make the team better, and he's done that." 

Yet leadership is hard to do when a player isn't making an impact. Jenner is making one and has perhaps been the Jackets' best player in this series, one reason Columbus has a 2-1 series lead with Game 4 beckoning Thursday night. 

"That's the best I've seen him play since I've been here, at a very important time obviously," head coach Tortorella said. "We're getting a lot out of that line, and he's leading the way. He makes a couple of huge blocks at the end. There is no maintenance to him. I've bounced him around -- on the power play, off the power play, bounced him around on different lines. He just plays. 

"For some of our young guys, they don't need to look too far as far as what a pro is. They just need to look right there at his stall." 

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