From shutting down the opposition to hitting the scoresheet himself, Seth Jones has accomplished all of it for the Blue Jackets this post-season and made it clear why some take into account a future Norris Trophy frontrunner.Seth Jones|Jamie Sabau/NHLI by way of Getty ImagesCOLUMBUS – Every thing it’s worthwhile to know in regards to the defensive juggernaut that’s the Columbus Blue Jackets is that within the first spherical, defenseman Erik Cernak was the main scorer for the Tampa Bay Lightning with three assists. And in a mixed 20 playoff video games, six of probably the most dynamic offensive gamers within the sport – Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos and Brayden Level, together with Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak of the Boston Bruins – have two objectives, solely one in all them at even power.
The Blue Jackets aren’t solely shutting down a few of the greatest gamers on the planet, they’re rendering them virtually ineffective. Positive, Marchand has been free to interrupt peoples’ sticks and punch them at the back of the top, however that’s in regards to the extent of the influence he’s had on this second-round collection. As for Bergeron, he’s profitable greater than 68 p.c of his faceoffs, however the Bruins have virtually nothing to indicate for all of that puck possession. The Bruins, in truth, took Pastrnak off the highest line and changed him with Danton Heinen, primarily to get him away from Jones and Werenski. (It’s not working. Pastrnak has grow to be a fringe participant on this collection.)
Not that this has happy Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella, who spoke on the off-day Wednesday as if his staff was trailing within the collection as a substitute of main 2-1. “I nonetheless assume we’ve a ton of issues we have to enhance on,” Tortorella mentioned. “There are some main issues we have to enhance on for Sport four, and I imply that. We’d like extra guys. I don’t assume we’ve sufficient guys taking part in on the stage they should play at.”
Scoring was up within the NHL this season and the league has extra thrilling and dynamic gamers than it has ever had in its historical past. However the Blue Jackets are proving that if you wish to have success within the playoffs, you continue to should grind out your wins and discover a technique to wreck a masterpiece slightly than create. And no one has disrupted the opponents greater than the Blue Jackets protection tandem of Seth Jones and Zach Werenski. Jones presently sits second in ice time behind Brent Burns with a per-game common of 28:04 in these playoffs, whereas Werenski is fifth at 26:36. And these are usually not straightforward minutes, both.
“Simply play arduous defensively, that’s all we’re doing, truthfully,” Jones mentioned of his and Werenski’s success towards the league’s prime shooters. “Me personally, I’m simply attempting to be bodily. I do know I’m not often called an enormous, bruising defenseman. I did see I had six hits final sport, although. I don’t know who’s counting that. Simply attempting to be bodily and take time and house away.”
There have by no means been any questions in regards to the offensive potential that each Jones and Werenski possess. Taking part in a 200-foot sport has been a piece in progress for each and so they’ve made monumental strides in that space this previous season. On the age of 24 and with six seasons underneath his belt, Jones is beginning to enter the territory the place he’ll be among the many critical contenders for a Norris Trophy within the subsequent couple of seasons. From munching minutes to producing offense to shutting down prime gamers, Jones is starting to verify off an terrible lot of containers in relation to being Norris-worthy.
“I feel that is what Seth wanted in his profession, was to get on this huge stage like this,” mentioned Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno. “We’ve at all times seen it, however now it’s getting nationally talked about. He’s an enormous a part of this staff and an elite participant on this league and it’s good to see him get acknowledged. He doesn’t actually care about it and that’s a part of what makes him so good. He doesn’t want individuals speaking about him to play like that.”
Many of the good defensive work Jones does is together with his ft and his stick. Even speedy forwards have a tough time getting previous him and his pace permits him to make extra dangerous offensive performs, realizing he can skate himself out of hassle and cease offensive drives together with his stick. He’s additionally been a presence on the facility play within the playoffs, changing Werenski on the level alongside Artemi Panarin. To date within the publish season, one in all his two objectives and 4 of his eight factors have come on the facility play.
“We’re going on the market and simply attempting to dominate each sport,” Jones mentioned. “Whether or not it’s offensively or defensively, make a distinction. That’s what we at all times say. Typically it’s not at all times optimistic, however we attempt to maintain it that manner for probably the most half.”
Seven video games into this post-season and three video games into the second spherical, it has been a case of mission completed.
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Tags: boston bruins, columbus blue jackets, playoffsConnect: Concerning the AuthorKen CampbellKen Campbell, The Hockey Information’ senior author, is in his second tour with the model after an eight-year stint as a beat reporter for the Maple Leafs for the Toronto Star. The Sudbury native as soon as tried out for the Ontario League’s Wolves as a 30-year-old. Evidently, it did not work out.