Film Session: How Johnny Gaudreau and Boone Jenner Teamed Up For Two Nearly Identical Goals

By Dan Dukart on February 12, 2024 at 1:45 pm
Boone Jenner looks tip a shot against the Tampa Bay Lightning
Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

The Columbus Blue Jackets struggled to beat Tampa Bay Lightning superstar netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy through two periods of Saturday's 4-2 loss but came alive with a pair of goals from Boone Jenner in the third period.

Though one of those goals came at 5v5 and the other on the power play, both showcased similar principles that are worth exploring more deeply. Namely, the east-west passing play of Johnny Gaudreau and the net-front presence of Jenner.

Goal #1

Gaudreau, like all elite-level players, seems to get better the more he touches the puck. On this sequence, he gets the puck (1) upon zone entry, makes a cross-seam pass, then recovers the missed shot (2), shoots, gets his own rebound (3), then completes a slick behind-the-back pass to Zach Werenski before getting the return feed (4). Finally, he sends the puck back across the grain again for a tip-in to Jenner, who is perfectly positioned at the net-front.

This sequence perfectly encapsulates what the Blue Jackets can be. A rover in Werenski, an assertive Gaudreau, and a net-front presence (Jenner, Dmitri Voronkov, etc.) who can cash in these types of plays.

Not only is the compounding touches for Gaudreau good for his own confidence, it's good for the team. Every time he touched the puck was slightly more dangerous than the last, which is intuitive. This theory, improving the condition of the puck on every touch, has been a key tenant of NHL skills coach Darryl Belfry, who works with many of the top players in the world. From his book while discussing Auston Matthews and Patrick Kane:

What was fascinating in this game was how dialed in both players were on multiple puck touches in the same possession sequence, which was a prominent theme of ours in the camp. Working to get the puck, improve the conditions of the puck, and relocate into better ice to get another puck touch with improved opportunity was a focus that I was keen on watching for….and these two didn’t disappoint all game long and in the goals they were responsible for. 

Gaudreau has struggled to put up the gaudy numbers that he did in Calgary, and much of that can be traced back to the powerful linemates he had there that he lacks here. But this type of play shows that he still has the elite playmaking skills in his game.

Goal #2

This goal happened on the power play, so it's apples and oranges, but again showcased Gaudreau on the left flank with a deceptive and confident centering pass to Jenner. Whereas Gaudreau made the first goal happen with his improved conditions of the puck, this goal should be equally attributed to Jenner. He perfectly positions his stick as a target for Gaudreau to hit, knowing that he'll be able to redirect it past Vasilevskiy. That subtle presentation gives Gaudreau all he needed to send a tricky slap pass to Jenner for the redirect.

It's also worth mentioning that both goals came on east-west plays. This coaching staff has really emphasized the idea of playing pucks north, particularly in the defensive and neutral zones. To some extent, that has helped players like Jenner, who are straightforward, no-nonsense types. Similarly, it has likely hurt someone like Gaudreau, who likes to play more creatively and in space than straight ahead. In the offensive zone, Gaudreau loves to find the seam but hasn't been able to find a consistent linemate that can play off his game.

It's not worth overreacting to, but it was encouraging that Jenner and Gaudreau found themselves on the same page for two beautiful goals in a game where the team otherwise failed to capitalize. 

1 Comment
View 1 Comments