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Calvert generating scoring chances, creating offense early in season

Forward is tied for third on the Blue Jackets in individual scoring chances generated with 13

by Brian Hedger JacketsInsider / BlueJackets.com

WINNIPEG, MB. - Matt Calvert hasn't scored yet, but it feels like it's only a matter of time before the Blue Jackets' veteran forward hits the back of the net.

According to Naturalstattrick.com, Calvert is tied for third on the Blue Jackets in individual scoring chances generated (13), is tied for third with Sonny Milano in individual high-danger chances created (6) and shares the team lead with defenseman David Savard in rebounds created (3).

"The chances have been there a ton for me," said Calvert, who's spent all eight seasons of his NHL career with Columbus. "I could've put a few in the net, but I'm going to stick with it. Other times, I've gotten down on myself, but it's a big year. Guys like me need to step up offensively and help out."

Despite Calvert's lack of goals, Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella has noticed his play.

Calvert's line - the third group - was picked to start the past two games, which the Jackets won. Monday, he was bumped up to the second line in practice at the University of Minnesota's Ridder Ice Arena.

Against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday, Calvert will likely shift with captain Nick Foligno at center and Oliver Bjorkstrand on the right wing.

"I'm getting an opportunity right now to play with Foligno and Bjorky, two guys who tend to get quite a few points, so it should be a good opportunity," Calvert said. "I'm excited about it."

Calvert wasn't the only forward on the move.

Milano moved from the fourth line to Calvert's vacated spot on the third unit, while rookie Pierre-Luc Dubois skated at left wing on the fourth line - Milano's former spot.

It's all part of the early-season process for Tortorella, who's trying to find the most effective combinations throughout his lineup. There are also some chemistry concerns on the back end, with defensemen, but the biggest issue at hand appears to be up front.

The top line of Artemi Panarin, Alexander Wennberg and Cam Atkinson has clicked the past couple games, but one successful line isn't enough to win consistently. Calvert's energy and Milano's speed might add some zing to the second and third lines, which could help.

"I've bounced around the lineup my whole career, and gone from first to fourth [line]," Calvert said. "You just focus on what you do best and what you can bring every night. It's been a pretty good start. Obviously, the goals haven't been going in yet, but you've just got to keep working, keep knocking on the door, and eventually they'll go."

READ: PATIENCE PAYING OFF FOR TOP LINE

News and Notes

  • The Jackets haven't scored a power-play goal since their 5-0 win against the New York Islanders on opening night at Nationwide Arena. They are 0-for-11 in those four games, and have generated just eight shots on goal. It's not a big sample size, but it's enough to raise caution flags with Tortorella - who lamented the Jackets' lack of shots with the man-advantage after watching them produce one shot in three unsuccessful power plays during a 5-4 overtime win Saturday against the Minnesota Wild.
    • Two days later, he hadn't changed his mind.
    • "Not enough shots," Tortorella said. "[Be] simple and shoot the puck. The good news is we're still winning games without [the power play] going, but you're going to eventually have to get it going. You need to get that working, and we've been very fortunate we've been able to win games without it."
  • Tortorella hasn't decided whether Scott Harrington will get a second straight game or whether he'll go with defenseman Markus Nutivaara on the third pairing. Nutivaara was recalled Sunday from the Cleveland Monsters of the American Hockey League after Gabriel Carlsson was placed on injured reserve with an upper-body injury. Harrington was rusty in his season debut against the Wild, logging 11:07, but said he'd feel more comfortable a second time around.
    • "It's tough to see someone go down, but that's part of it," Harrington said. "It's something the team goes through every year, so it's up to the guys to step up and fill in. So, anytime they call on me, I'll be ready and I'm looking forward to it.
    • Nutivaara, who played in Winnipeg on Sunday with Cleveland, didn't practice Monday. He stayed in Winnipeg and met the Jackets when they arrived.
  • Tortorella hasn't decided whether Zac Dalpe or Markus Hannikainen will skate at right wing on the fourth line against the Jets. He also doesn't reveal his starting goaltender until game day, but Sergei Bobrovsky was the first to leave the ice after practice Monday. That is often an indicator of who will be in net.
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