Sean Kuraly Thriving While Playing with Emotion

By Coby Maeir on February 14, 2023 at 10:15 am
Sean Kuraly celebrates after scoring a goal agains the Toronto Maple Leafs.
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Sean Kuraly is on pace to set a career-high in goals.

After scoring a career-high 14 goals in 2021-22, Kuraly is on pace to score 16 in 2022-23. In Saturday's 4-3 over the Maple Leafs, he scored the third of three-second period goals for the Blue Jackets, and as usual, was emotionally involved in the game.

"I think it's rare that he's not emotionally attached to the game," head coach Brad Larsen said. "So in the odd night where I see him maybe lethargic, those are the off nights and you don't see many of those from him."

Larsen added that Kuraly needs to continue to play with emotion.

"I think he has to be plugged in," Larsen said. "And that's where you want all your players. You want them emotionally attached to the game. I think for him, that charges him. He's physical. He's at the puck. He's always I think that's where he has to be."

Kuraly said he doesn't necessarily play "pissed off" and that he finds a "sweet spot" in playing with emotion.

"Just when I'm in the game and playing hard getting in the good areas," Kuraly said. "I think that's when I can play my best."

Kuraly added that one of his keys to playing is getting emotionally involved.

"That starts with a hit sometimes," Kuraly said. "And a good forecheck, a face-off. Just something simple that I know I can accomplish and stick to my strengths."

For a player that has been on the fourth line for nearly the entire season, a 16-goal pace is impressive. From my perspective, it certainly looks like he elevates his game as he's more emotionally involved. 

His play, both offensively and on the penalty kill, has been a pleasant surprise this season for the Blue Jackets. 

Can he continue on his current pace and set a new career-high in goals?