Blue Jackets Captain Nick Foligno Believes Simplicity is Key to Beat Maple Leafs

By Chris Pennington on August 6, 2020 at 1:05 pm
Columbus Blue Jackets left wing Nick Foligno (71) reacts during the third period against the San Jose Sharks at SAP Center at San Jose.
Cody Glenn-USA TODAY Sports

Know your identity.

The Columbus Blue Jackets, for most of their franchise history, maybe aside from last year, have played a very simple brand of hockey.

Dump the puck deep in the offensive zone. Forecheck hard. Shoot anytime you get the puck. Dig for dirty rebound goals. Along with being simple, It's an effective brand of hockey, if carried out each night. 

"I think its pretty simple. I don't think its rocket science how we need to play in order to have success."– Nick Foligno Following Game 2

But carrying it out each night takes a buy-in across the roster, and is exhausting. It takes discipline, patience and unity, and a game plan the Blue Jackets carried out perfectly in Game 1 against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

In Game 2, however, they seemed to break away from this identity. A few too many scoring chances where someone made an extra pass when they should have shot the puck, some instances where someone should have dumped the puck in the zone but they tried to skate it in. 

"I think we need to shoot more if you look at the stats from (Tuesday). That was just something that obviously stood out, with just our pressure," said Blue Jackets Captain Nick Foligno on Wednesday. "I think we can start taking more bad angle shots to break them down."

Here is the perfect example of what Foligno is referring to. Rather than taking a shot from the point with two Blue Jackers in prime screening position, David Savard makes an extra move (which he already shouldn't be doing) and gives time for a Maple Leafs' defender to get in the way to block his shot.

As a whole, it seemed like the boys in blue felt like they could evolve from their original brand of hockey. But frankly, they're not good enough to do that.

"I think we saw that last game with just our effort and our energy level wasn't where it needed to be, and it's the reason why we didn't have the result we wanted," continued Foligno. "We sure that up, and I think we have a better result and I think we're excited about that opportunity come tomorrow."

The Blue Jackets had just 20 shots on goal in Game 2 after having the sixth-most in the NHL in the regular season (32.5 per game), proving Foligno's point even more: the Blue Jackets can't get cute, they need to stick to their plan of greasy goals and lighting up opposing goaltenders.

It got them this far, why change it up now?

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