The Springfield Falcons are locked in a battle for the final playoff spot in the AHL’s Eastern Conference. And after a seemingly inconceivable string of injuries (sound familiar?), the deck may be stacked against them — but Michael Chaput knows that they’re capable of getting to the postseason.
“We have 10 games left, we’re going to work hard and stick to our system and stick to what works for us,” Chaput told BlueJackets.com. “We’re going to make sure we have a good stretch here to make the playoffs."
The Falcons won the Northeast Division last season before getting bounced in the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs. Chaput led the team with a 19-26-45 line in 55 games and he’s been good again this year for Springfield, with a 9-10-19 line in 35 games for the Falcons.
But for the 6-foot-2, 194-pound centerman, hockey isn’t just about putting up numbers; head coach Jared Bednar trusts him in all situations and in all three zones.
"I’m a two-way guy, I can play defensively and I can bring some offense to the team,” said Chaput. "I think I’m a big guy who can protect pucks down low and hit players, and play well defensively."
Chaput’s smart, two-way game is a big reason why he made the Blue Jackets’ opening-night roster this season — for the second year in a row. After spending 33 games in Columbus so far this season, he now has 50 career NHL games under his belt. And while he’s focused on Springfield’s playoff run for now, he knows what it’s going to take for him to stick in the NHL going forward.
"It’s hard to get to that level, and it’s even harder to stick, to make a career up there,” said Chaput. "I think that you've just gotta look at some of the guys working up there, their execution. They don’t miss passes. They don’t miss the net when they shoot."
Since being sent down to Springfield in January, Chaput has been working on the parts of his game that he knows will help him get back to Columbus — and hopefully stick there for the long term. And as a centerman, he knows there’s a lot on his plate.
“I've played center my whole career, so it’s been the same thing—you just have to play consistently and play well,” said Chaput. “When you’re a center, you help the defense down low in the corners. And part of being a good centerman is winning face-offs and that’s something that’s part of my game that I’ve been getting better at."