The Blue Jackets practiced Thursday afternoon at Nationwide Arena before heading back out on the road for back-to-back games in Chicago and St. Louis on Friday and Saturday night.
The Jackets look to extend their current winning streak to five games after having already won seven of their last past eight. The Jackets haven’t just been winning, but ‘finding solutions’ as head coach Todd Richards has often said this season, coming from behind in each of their last seven wins.
“We’re finding ways to win because I think we’re playing more consistently. Obviously not all game long, but doing it more times than not with big goals and timely saves,” said forward Nick Foligno, who is extended his career-high single season total to 26 goals against Anaheim on Tuesday. “And I think we’re starting to get that confidence. We want to find way to start games with a lead, but any win is a positive right now and we’ll take that.”
Confidence is the key word.
“It’s confidence, which is a huge part of anything that you do and especially in athletics. It’s confidence, whether it’s an individual or as a team,” said Richards. “Some guys sit in the room and think ‘I can do it,’ and that’s the confidence I’m talking about. I think the collective part is when you sit in the locker room and look around the room and everyone has their head up because there is a belief.”
That belief stems from success, and the Jackets have had more of that lately in the second-half of games than they did earlier in the season. Some of that can be attributed to Scott Hartnell’s recent scoring touch, but also to the physical energy brought by the fourth line in recent weeks by Corey Tropp and Jared Boll.
“Some of it is somebody saying something on the bench or in the room, somebody doing something on the ice,” said Richards. “Sometimes it’s somebody having success, a blocked shot or a fight, a big shift for a line or whatever has been done to be a catalyst for our game. And some of it I think is just getting (ticked) off because you’re down. And that’s part of us getting that anger and focus right away when the puck drops.”
The Jackets have won six consecutive road games heading into United Center on Friday.
Other stuff from around the rink…
- The Blue Jackets learned Friday that they will not have Boll available for the weekend's games after the NHL handed down a three-game suspension for a hit on Patrick Maroon on Tuesday. The league ruled that Boll unnecessarily made contact with Maroon’s head. The play did not draw a penalty at the time.
- Brandon Dubinsky returned to the ice at practice today, while Artem Anisimov was not on the ice due to a maintenance day. Richards said that both are expected to play tomorrow night, while Alexander Wennberg will not be available as he continues to recover from an infection on his right hand. He and Ryan Murray will not travel, while Rene Bourque is expected to be on the trip.
- The Jackets will need to do some shuffling to accommodate the absence of Boll on the fourth line. One thing not expected to change is William Karlsson’s role after the the young center registered an assist in his first game as a Jacket on Tuesday.
“We probably keep him in the middle just because it’s more of his natural position and he was pretty good last game in that position. And he was good with Hartnell and (Marko Dano),” said Richards.
- Friday will be a Jeremy Morin’s first game in Chicago since being traded to Columbus in December. The return has meaning for Morin, but he’s also just happy to be back on the ice after a lengthy absence due to an upper-body condition.
“I’m really excited to be back playing right now and healthy again, that’s what I’m most excited about,” said Morin. “Obviously it was a long process and I’m getting back into game shape, and I think that’s still coming. But I feel healthy and I’m looking forward to finishing out the season.”
- Another player with a wait and see rehab is Calvert, who did work out today and is still working his way back from a concussion.
“This is my first experience (with a concussion) so it’s a bit of a learning experience for me," Calvert said. "And you have your set-backs in the process but I think I’ve reached a stage where you go one day hard and then go hard again the next day, and you hope it responds well. It literally is day-by-day.”
- The injury bug extends to the coaching staff, as goaltending coach Ian Clark tore a tendon in his elbow during practice. Clark will need surgery at some point to repair it. So what happens if the Jackets have a situation where both of their goalies go down, a la the Florida Panthers?
“I think if it came down to it, we’d shoot him up with something,” said Richards with a laugh. “I don’t know what, but we’d give him something to give him some energy and take the pain away.”