The players took the ice this morning for about 25 minutes, and according to Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards, the “mood was good.”
Despite being handed their fourth loss of the season by the Chicago Blackhawks last Saturday, the Blue Jackets got back to their style of play and found some things to build on. Richards said he was pleased with the improvements he saw, including their transition game and creating more traffic in front of the net.
Still, there are a lot of things that need to be better, and that includes their struggling power play. Richards said it has been good, but not great, which for him isn't good enough.
“We have to do a better job getting pucks to the net, maybe a little quicker so our forwards have opportunities,” Richards said after the morning skate.
Currently, the Blue Jackets are ranked 24th in the league with the man advantage, scoring three power play goals out of 23 power play opportunities through five games. Richards said they spent the morning reviewing tape and talking about ways to improve the power play, which he says needs to have more flow.
Richards said the team does well in attempted power play shots, but falls behind in generating second chances off of rebounds and blocked shots. One of the things the players need to do is to generate more scoring opportunities by making quicker decisions with the puck while moving their feet, he said.
“It’s just too slow,” Richards said of the puck movement. “We get the puck, and we stickhandle once with it, slow it down, pass it, and they stickhandle once. Decisions have to be made quicker.”
With the season moving along at the torrid pace that was expected before the schedule was even announced, special teams play an even larger role in dictating momentum and giving teams an upper hand in the game. On the other side of the coin is the penalty kill, which has been pretty solid for the Blue Jackets, who have an 89.5 percent kill rate.
Richards attributes part of the penalty kill success to steady performances by Blue Jackets goaltenders Steve Mason and Sergei Bobrovsky.
“Our goaltending’s been great," Richards said. "It’s been our best penalty-killer and has to be."
What role will special teams play in tonight’s match-up against the Dallas Stars? Whatever the answer may be, one thing is certain: Richards and the Blue Jackets must take advantage of any opportunity to score enough goals and end their current four-game skid.