When you think of Boone Jenner, you think of many things. You may think of him as a spark plug that gives the Blue Jackets energy. You also think of him as a leader on and off the ice.
One thing you likely wouldn’t think of him as is a power-play threat. While Jenner has seen power-time time in recent seasons, he’s usually not one of the first ones over the boards when the time comes to have the man advantage.
At least early on the preseason, this could be changing.
Jenner’s New Power-Play Role
Head coach Brad Larsen had an idea. He wanted to try Jenner at the net-front on the top power-play unit. Given the way he likes to play the game, it’s easy to see the logic behind this move. Well, so far, so good in that regard.
Jenner has scored a power-play goal in each of his two preseason appearances. Both goals came from the net front. In Monday’s 5-3 win in Buffalo, Jenner was given free reign in front of goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen and was able to generate a goal with hard work.
Given all the weapons on this top power-play unit, having a player like Jenner in front gives them another dangerous option. Patrik Laine, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Jakub Voracek and Zach Werenski make up the other members of the top unit. If a team chooses to overplay Laine, there are other options available.
Larsen talked about Jenner’s presence on the power play.
“That’s where he (Jenner) needs to be,” Larsen said. “That’s where he has his success. He knows it. I don’t think there’s any secret. He’s hard on pucks. He’s good in the faceoff circle. Winning that first draw is important. You get that, you get possession right away and it allows you to attack.”
“He made a nice little move there. It wasn’t just jam it in. He’s got better hands than he gets credit for especially in those tight areas.”
Voracek & Laine Like Jenner’s Role
To have a successful power play, you need to be able to present multiple dangerous options to teams so they can’t just key in on one aspect. Voracek and Laine each see the positive in having Jenner play at the net front. Here’s each of them from after Monday’s win.
“It those details exactly when I get the puck and who I’m getting the puck from, he’s gotta know where to be,” Voracek said. “It’s about chemistry and working on it and talking about it all the time. It’s been working so far well.”
“He’s done such a good job in front of the net,” Laine said. “I feel like he’s in the right spot and he knows what he’s doing.”
Laine also discussed what he expects from someone at the net front. He said he’s not looking for a screen on his one-timer (who would want to screen that anyway?) But he did say the net front is important for wrist shots and tip opportunities.
When looking to stop this power play, teams are going to focus on Laine, Voracek and Bjorkstrand because of what they do with the puck. But teams will have to make sure they account for Jenner as well at the net front. His role there is important to the unit’s success. At least in the two preseason games Jenner has played in, we’ve seen a glimpse of what their success looks like.
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Don’t forget Jenner had a season back in 2015-16 where he scored nine power-play goals and 14 power-play points. That was the season he scored 30. He has a unique opportunity to provide offense again on the power play by playing a role that seems to suit the style of game he plays.
It’s very early still. But Larsen is showing a willingness to try some new things to see if something is there. Putting Jenner on the top unit could prove to be beneficial. It could also prove to be his new permanent power-play home especially if he keeps finishing like he is so far.
Side Dishes From Monday
- Voracek finished with a goal and two primary assists on the night. His presence on the power play is something the Blue Jackets haven’t had. It’s reasonable to expect an improvement overall here.
- One of the roster bubble guys scored a big goal Monday. Emil Bemstrom converted a Rasmus Dahlin turnover into a breakaway backhand goal. It seems confidence is growing for him. Larsen thought he was much better on Monday. “Today was a much better game. I thought the game before he wasn’t so good. He got another crack tonight. He looked much better. He scored early so that gave him some energy. We’re going to need to see more of that.”
- Joonas Korpisalo made his preseason debut and stopped 17/18 in two periods. He said postgame that he felt good out there. He missed a small part of camp with an injury. When asked if he needed a certain number of games to be ready, he said it’s a matter of how you’re feeling. He seems ready to go.
- Gus Nyquist played in his first game since the Toronto bubble. Larsen said he was a little rusty but that’s to be expected. The Blue Jackets should get a lift from him returning to the lineup full-time.
- Larsen is impressed with Chinakhov’s overall game, not just the shooting. Larsen: “He’s a sharp player. He thinks the game really well. His game is much more than his shot. I think if they take his shot away, he’s smart enough to pass. But it’s the other stuff he’s doing that I really like for a young man.”
- The Blue Jackets have Tuesday off before their next preseason game against the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night at Nationwide Arena.
I am a fully credentialed writer who covers the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Monsters and Erie Otters as well as the Ontario Hockey League and NHL Draft. The 2021-22 season will mark eight seasons with the Hockey Writers. I am also the site’s Credentials Manager.