Prior to yesterday’s game against the Red Wings, head coach Todd Richards talked about progress as a process, and he wanted to see improvement on both sides of the puck, defensively and offensively.
One area he wanted to see improvement was special teams – the power play and penalty kill, which he said was good, but not good enough.
“It’s good to generate momentum, but there are times when we have to score,” Richards said.
The team responded to that challenge with two power play goals in the third period last night. James Wisniewski scored to tie the game at 2-2 with a powerful slap shot from the point. Vinny Prospal gave the Blue Jackets the brief lead off a wrist shot that came at the tail end of Kyle Quincey’s minor penalty for interfering with RJ Umberger.
The down side?
Aside from walking away with one point instead of two, the Blue Jackets spent too many minutes sitting in the penalty box. Various Blue Jackets players landed in the box at nine different times last night and the team played shorthanded seven of those nine times. Hockey giveth and taketh away.
Just as a power play can generate momentum for any team, an ill-timed penalty can kill it and give the other team the upper hand. Although the Blue Jackets kept the Red Wings power play unit off the board last night, it gave the Red Wings some momentum, and tested the Blue Jackets’ commitment to defense.
“It’s great resiliency, but the negative is, we’re putting ourselves down,” Richards said after the game.
An aggressive team committed to defense – that’s the expectation, but it doesn’t excuse bad decisions that result in unnecessary penalties.
“We want to cut the penalties down, especially in the offensive zone. We have to eliminate them,” Richards said.
Still, Richards insists the goal isn’t to stop playing a physical game, but there has to be balance and discipline.
“We don’t want to take our aggressiveness away from our guys," Richards said. "We still want to play hard. We still want to go after pucks, play a physical game.”
The Blue Jackets have another chance to improve against the Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday night, who are searching for their first win this season. On the defensive end, the Coyotes have been shaky at best, giving up 10 goals in two games and are 0-2-0-0 on the season so far.