The team's "identity" was the buzzword around the locker room this morning. Ever since they returned to Nationwide Arena this season, several of the Blue Jackets along with coach Todd Richards have talked about their identity being a hard-working, grind-it-out team that never gives up.
Now, they have to prove it. Despite losing to the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday, they exhibited a solid effort from start to finish that may have been their most consistent game of the season. They have a chance to rebound and continue along the path of improvement tonight against the Dallas Stars.
Richards said tonight’s game will be “huge,” and the result will be a testament to the direction the team is headed in.
“Our motivation has to be every single night – this is what we have to do, this is our identity,” Richards said after the morning skate today.
There are very few off-days in the NHL, especially in a shortened season when four games a week is the norm, and the Blue Jackets will need to find a way to build off the good things displayed against the Blackhawks if they want to get back on the winning track in short order.
Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno said the responsibility of finding a way to win falls on the shoulders of every guy in the locker room.
“We understand that it’s going to be a complete effort by all of us," Foligno told BlueJackets.com. "There aren’t any nights that we can take off."
Foligno skated alongside Ryan Johansen and Vinny Prospal at today’s morning skate – a slight change from Saturday’s line combinations that probably has something to do with the insertion of Colton Gillies into the lineup. The 6-foot-4 Gillies adds a physical force to the Blue Jackets’ lineup as well as a gritty style of play, especially on the forecheck.
Richards said the decision to put Gillies in the lineup is all part of trying to get everyone involved in their systems of play. While the team has improved their transition play from defensive to offensive, Richards said he wants a more established forecheck as well as getting more pucks to the net.
If the team wants to carry the “grind-it-out-for-the-win” badge, they will need to put the puck in the back of the net more often. Foligno said that success will come with the whole team putting in a consistent effort for a full 60 minutes.
“That’s the focus right now – coming out with a great start like we had against Chicago, trying to carry that through the whole game, and just playing a real solid ‘team’ game,” Foligno said.
“We showed something on Saturday, and now we gotta show something tonight,” Richards said.