Brick-by-brick is working
OCT 11, 2013 9:54a ET
With a lineup largely unchanged from last season, Columbus hopes to build on that success. Going into last night's tilt versus the Buffalo Sabres, the Blue Jackets have a record of 20-6-4, dating back to March 1, 2013. This translates to the second best record in the NHL, behind the Pittsburgh Penguins. They accomplished this by coming together as a team and building on the chemistry among them.
"I think we built something and we battled together", forward Nick Foligno. "With the success that we've had, this helps. But, it's not going to be as easy as it was last year. Our identity does not change. We're a hard-working, no quit team."
With three games in the books and a record of 2-1 for the 2013-2014 campaign, winning on the road in the faster-paced Eastern Conference becomes paramount. They have started a season 2-0 on the road only once before, in 2010-2011.
"The Eastern Conference is more run-and- gun", said forward Matt Calvert, one of the younger players on the club. "It's real fast a little more offensive. I know for us, we need to stick to our game plan. We have to be a tight team and a tough team to play against."
"A big thing with our chemistry is being comfortable with the guys (in the room). I think, for us, it started last year. We were working hard and putting in the effort. The chemistry started gelling on the front lines with different combinations. When everyone came in this year, it didn't even feel like we were gone for a few months (in the offseason). It's a great group of guys."
The different line combinations that Calvert speaks of bore fruit in last night's win. Head coach Todd Richards has shown that he doesn't waste time to change it up when it's not working. Versus Buffalo, the top line of Marian Gaborik, Cam Atkinson and Brandon Dubinsky went 3-3-6, with a +/- of +6.
"The biggest thing is the camaraderie among the guys", forward Cam Atkinson said (1-1-2, +2 last game). "It's a brother hood that we formed in the middle of last year. It's exciting to come to the rink every day and know that everyone has your back."
Through three games, the Blue Jackets have increased their offensive output. Atkinson explains their "scoring by committee" philosophy. "I don't think it's going to one guy giving us goals this season. I think it's going to be a mixture of everyone contributing. Everyone is capable of scoring goals (on the team). It's nice to see that everyone can put the puck in the back of the net and help the team win. We're going to be looking for that all season long."
The Blue Jackets currently sit fourth in the Metropolitan Division with 4 points. Their next game comes Saturday as they host the Boston Bruins at 2 p.m. Columbus is 5-5-2 all-time versus the visiting Bruins. This is the first of three meetings between the two teams.
• The Blue Jackets primary centers were above 50% in the faceoff circle versus the Sabres last night, ranging from 50% (Dubinsky) to 80% (MacKenzie). Winning face-offs goes a long way towards helping in the puck possession aspect of the game, and the Columbus forwards are doing their part.
• The power play was 0-4 with 7 shots on goal last night. Sometimes, the pretty pass isn't always the best play. Dumping the puck at the net and potting a "dirty" goal counts, too.
• Although the team made mistakes (it's still early in the season), they settled into "their game" quite well. They defended smartly, moved the puck with alacrity and kept the pressure on the Sabres while in the offensive zone. The speed of the game in the Eastern Conference doesn't seem to have an ill effect on the guys. Rather, they fit right in with the "run-and-gun" attitude.
• Matt Calvert played in his 100th game (20-19-39) in the NHL versus Buffalo last night, while Nick Foligno suited up for his 399th NHL game (69-100-169).
• Marian Gaborik has now recorded 44-50-94 in 92 career October games.
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