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Round One Practice Notebook: April 13

Jackets work on getting to the net in Thursday's practice

by Alison Lukan @AlisonL /

After losing Game One to the Penguins Wednesday, the Jackets held a 30-minute practice Thursday at PPG Paints Arena. Zach Werenski was the only player not participating; it was simply a maintenance day for the defenseman who led the team in shot attempts (12) last night.

The practice focused on finding ways to generate more offense, particularly close to the net and off rebounds and second chances.

In Game One, the Jackets out shot and out attempted the Penguins in all situations and in five-on-five play, but the majority of those attempts didn't come from "in the blue." The Jackets weren't able to capitalize until after their opponent had built a three-goal lead.

The way the Penguins play, the Jackets aren't expecting to get a lot of chances off the rush. They will need to battle against a defense that shrinks in their own zone, clogs passing lanes and blocks a lot of shots. Last night, Pittsburgh stopped 22 Jackets' shots from getting to the net. 

Video: Brandon Dubinsky talks to the media after practice

"You have to pay the price to get to the paint," Scott Hartnell said. "We had some opportunities but not the one in traffic where (Marc-Andre Fleury) is looking behind or he's not seeing them. That first power play we had I thought we had some good looks. Those are more of the opportunities that we need to get to get some past this guy. He challenges out far too. We have to shot fake, get some back door attempts. More of that will to get that puck to the net."

Hartnell was one of just two forwards to get more than two shots on goal last night. He wants to see his team return to their style of generating offense and expend effort getting the puck into the zone with control. This way, they can challenge Fleury instead of use their energy re-gaining possession off a dumped in puck.

"Give them credit, but we need to find ways to get more opportunities in the blue," Hartnell said. "That is something we've done all year long. It's not rocket science. We just have to execute better get things to in the paint and make it hell for Fleury."

Brandon Saad had 14:26 of ice time in Game One, but played just 1:45 in the third period. He had one shot on goal. After being benched for the majority of the final frame, there were no hard feelings lingering Thursday.

Video: Johnson on creating more offensive chances

"It's (head coach John Tortorella's) job to put the team out there that he thinks is going to get the job done," Saad said. "For me that's out of my control. I have to just control what I can. I've put it behind me. It's a clean slate. We're just trying to win hockey games."

Neither Saad nor Tortorella said the decision was tied to any specific play or decision. It was about the head coach putting out the players he thought were giving the team the best chance in the moment.

"I just thought other guys were going at certain times," Tortorella said. "Saad needs to be a big part of this. I thought the first period was the best period for his line (with Nick Foligno and Alexander Wennberg). I thought it deteriorated a bit from there. I was going with who I thought at that particular time who was going."

Video: Torts checks in ahead of Game 2

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