ST. LOUIS, MO — It has become quite the unconventional formula for the Blue Jackets, that of taking too many penalties and relying on penalty killing and goaltending to bail them out.
But for a variety of reasons, they’ve found their way out of trouble — particularly on the road — and as the saying goes, they’re finding ways to win hockey games. After Saturday’s 4-2 win at Scottrade Center, the Blue Jackets are 10-2-0 in their last 12 and have won eight straight road games and six straight overall.
Obviously, the disappointing element lies at the other end of the spectrum with their home record, which is one thing keeping them out of the Eastern Conference playoff picture. The Jackets’ win in St. Louis gave them a franchise record 22nd road win of the season and 46th point away from Nationwide Arena, but it’s nothing they have zeroed in on or discussed when heading out on the road.
“We haven’t talked at all or really noticed it with our road streak going,” said defenseman Jack Johnson. “We’ve really just been talking about winning and keeping the winning streak going, regardless of whether we’re at home or on the road. We’d definitely like to close out our home games strong… it hasn't been the record we’d like it to be.
“Winning cures everything. As long as you’re winning, there’s a great atmosphere in the room. We’re going to try and keep it going.”
KILLIN’ (A LOT OF) TIME
There’s a luxury here for Todd Richards in that he has multiple combinations of forwards he can use while shorthanded.
For some teams, a penalty killing parade shortens the bench and takes a lot of players out of the game for far too long, but the Blue Jackets have seven or eight (sometimes more) forwards they can employ on the kill.
Again, it’s far from an ideal situation but the Jackets are equipped to handle it and the versatility of their forwards is a big reason why.
“Based on the amount of penalties we’re taking, we need a lot of guys,” Richards said. “We have to be better in that area. You lean on some guys, and the problem with it is, some guys end up on the bench for a while because you're using other guys on the penalty kill — and it wears down the guys that you’re using.
“We wanted to be more disciplined and unfortunately that’s the way it ended up. We didn't have a lot of gas in the tank in the third period but the guys battled hard with what they had.”
THE FINAL WORD
From Richards on the Jackets’ successful back-to-back weekend (their 18th of the season)...
“Coming into two buildings this weekend…St. Louis is not an easy place to play, especially on a back-to-back both in Chicago and here. It was a good job by the guys, playing six periods of hard hockey where they put it on the line.”