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Round One Practice Notebook: April 15

Jackets stay confident despite two-game deficit

by Alison Lukan @AlisonL / BlueJackets.com

The Jackets are down 0-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the opening round of the playoffs, but the prevailing emotion Saturday, as the team held an optional skate, was one of confidence and not anxiety.

The main concern for the Jackets through these first two games has been offensive production. They've scored just one goal in each game and have allowed seven total scores by Pittsburgh. But this is a team that ranked sixth in the league in goals per game in the regular season (3.01) and had five players with 50-plus points.

And that's why the group is confident. Scoring goals is something these players know they can do. So the team is looking to stick to their process and more importantly, the coaches aren't going to start interfering when it comes to trying to generate more offense.

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"Scorers have that ability you can't teach," Brandon Dubinsky said. "It's not something (head coach John Tortorella) is barking at. He wants the other things like the process to create the scoring chances. That's what he's focused on."

Video: John Tortorella talks about what the team needs to do

Tortorella doesn't believe there's a lot that coaches can do when it comes to offensive players, rather, it's better "to get out of the way and trust your players." The head coach wants his group to use their instincts because he knows they can do and see things to capitalize on that coaches can't anticipate. 

"The coaches have been really cognizant of not over-coaching offense," Nick Foligno said. "They are right (to do that). You can give little points but offensive players are that for a reason. They have those instincts where they see things that other guys don't. They can see openings and you can't be thinking about a million other things (you've been told to do). You have to read the play and what's there."

Video: Nick Foligno on improving the offense for Game Three

With the offense free to maximize their instinctive abilities, now the onus is on a group that feels they're really close to getting the bounces going their way. But they still have to keep working to get those bounces at all. 

"Tortorella understands there has to be a creativity involved," Sam Gagner said. "At the same time, a lot offense is finding ways to dig in and fight for that next chance. We're doing a pretty good job of getting chances. It's about getting that second one. There's a lot of different ways to score goals, we just have to find a way to do that."

Video: Sam Gagner talks about the importance of momentum

Other notes:

  • Center Lukas Sedlak skated for the third day in a row today but Tortorella says he is not yet ready for a full practice.
  • The Blue Jackets recalled forward Sonny Milano from the Cleveland Monsters. He participated in today's optional skate. The Monsters completed their regular season campaign Saturday night. Milano (18-29-47) led the team in points, tied for assists, and was second in goals. 
  • In terms of netminders, Anton Forsberg also joined the Jackets from Cleveland. Oscar Dansk, who had been with the team through Games One and Two, was assigned to the Monsters.
  • Per the NHL Department of Player Safety, forward Matt Calvert has been suspended one game for his cross-check on Tom Kuhnhackl with 35 seconds to play in Friday's 4-1 loss. Calvert received a two-minute minor penalty in the game.

PLAYER SAFETY VIDEO: Calvert suspended

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