Inside what could best be described as a “jovial” Blue Jackets locker room this morning, today’s theme was about putting last night’s game in the rear-view mirror.
After three weeks of hammering out details and re-working their systems in certain areas, the Blue Jackets put it all together in a resounding 4-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings last night. The winless skid to open the season weighed on the players and coaches, and as a result, carried around what Scott Arniel called “a lot of baggage.”
Today is a new day, and that’s exactly how the team is approaching the season from here on out. The past cannot be changed, they will tell you, and the sole focus is the next opponent – the Buffalo Sabres. Arniel worked on several things this morning geared toward how the Blue Jackets game-plan for the Sabres, who sport a different look this season with several offseason acquisitions.
And despite leaving last night’s game briefly, goaltender Steve Mason was back on the ice this morning and took part in the full practice. Mason showed no ill effects, but practiced without the purple pads for “Hockey Fights Cancer” that will be auctioned off through the organization.
“This morning, the message from the coaches is that (last night) is over,” center Derick Brassard told BlueJackets.com. “We need to be ready for Buffalo, they’ve got a good team and they’ve lost two in a row at home.
“It was another day this morning. It’s fun to have the first win, but let’s move on.”
Defenseman John Moore scored his first NHL goal last night in the second period, but there was a lot more to his game. Arniel said Moore played well against the Ottawa Senators last weekend, and felt that his quick feet would help the defense against the Red Wings.
There was evidence of said ability last night – Moore recovered and got back into position against Red Wing forwards by way of his speed. His goal came on a quick read after Cody Bass got the puck back to the point, by keeping his head up and finding a way to get a shot toward the net.
“He’s got great feet,” Arniel said. “I think he did a good job against sort a tenacious Detroit forecheck. He did a great job of finding the outlets; against Detroit, it’s about finding the middle of the ice because they take the walls away. Johnny was poised under a pretty pressured situation.
“I thought he had a lot of poise for a young man.”
Moore’s skating was a key asset in keeping the forecheck going against the Red Wings last night. Several players said maintaining pressure was a focal point during each intermission, and they saw results when pucks were deep in the zone and the Red Wings’ defensemen were forced to constantly retrieve the puck.
“We came out and – as cliché as it sounds – we just gave it our all,” Moore told BlueJackets.com. “I thought we did a great job of getting pucks deep and we were relentless on our forecheck. Against Detroit, you have to keep it simple because they’re such a skilled team.”
As the Blue Jackets head to Buffalo for a cross-conference game tomorrow night at First Niagara Center, many of those same concepts will be key to keeping pace with the Sabres – a team that thrives on moving the puck “north” all the time.
“Especially on the road,” Moore said. “Just keep it simple and make sure we’re putting pucks behind them, because they have some mobile guys back there that like to get in the rush. It’s a very similar matchup to Detroit.”
SAVVY TO SPRINGY
The Blue Jackets assigned defenseman David Savard to Springfield (AHL) this morning, a move largely based on getting the Falcons some needed help on defense. Arniel said Springfield has a game tonight and Savard is needed due to injuries, and he’s expected to be recalled tomorrow to join the Blue Jackets in Buffalo.
In seven games this season with the Blue Jackets, Savard tallied 0-2-2 with 13 shots on goal.