Cody Cousino / Asst. multimedia editor
When the Blue Jackets get a man advantage at home, announcer Greg Murray gets the fans out of their seats with his signature booming exclamation, “Jackets on the power play!”
This season, the fans might as well stay seated.
The Jackets are ranked second-to-last in power-play percentage with a paltry 12.2 percent after 42 games.
Coach Scott Arniel addressed the power-play concerns after a blowout loss late in the year.
“We’re trying to get our guys to shoot,” Arniel said. “I’m not sure if we’re afraid of getting blocked or whatever it might be. We’re just going to have to try to stick with it and simplify, try to shoot pucks as much as possible with traffic around the front of the net.”
The lack of shooting on power plays explains why the Jackets have only scored 19 power-play goals in 156 power-play opportunities so far this season.
Jackets center R.J. Umberger said the better teams in the NHL have good power-play systems.
“In this day and age, it’s very important,” Umberger said. “We’re trying to work on it every day, and we’re going over a lot of video. I think it’s going to take a lot of just getting simple and shooting more pucks.”
Although the lack of goals is a concern, Jackets defenseman Anton Stralman said the Jackets’ propensity for giving up shorthanded goals is something else the team needs to work on.
“It’s absolutely a concern. Obviously that’s not the way it should be,” Stralman said. “Our power play is not working right now.”
Stralman echoed Umberger’s suggestion that the Jackets keep things simple.
“We need to put pucks up by the net, get traffic out in front and hopefully get a few bounces on our side,” Stralman said.
Two seasons ago, the Jackets were in a similar position. They made it to the postseason for the first time in franchise history, despite having the lowest power-play percentage in the league. The Detroit Red Wings then swept the Jackets in the first round.
The similarities don’t end there. The Jackets started the season by jumping out to a 14-6 record, but have gone 6-13-3 since. Last season, the team started 12-6-2 before losing 16 of its next 19 games.
Despite the team’s struggles, Umberger is convinced that this squad can turn it around.
“I think this is a different team; we’re a lot more confident,” Umberger said. “We have young players that are developing and getting another year of experience, and we have a coaching staff that’s going to make us pay attention to details all throughout the year.”