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Richards praises Columbus’ balance, ‘not worried about matchups’ while rolling four lines

Jan 24, 2014, 6:50 PM EDT

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The Columbus Blue Jackets have won eight straight and are the NHL’s hottest team, but you’d be hard pressed to find a single individual responsible for that success.

According to head coach Todd Richards, that’s all part of the plan.

“That’s what makes this team,” Richards said, per the Columbus Dispatch. “We get contributions from everyone, but it’s the depth of the team, being able to play everyone really at any time of the game.”

Columbus has utilized this balanced attack to grab a playoff spot and emerge as one of the NHL’s top scoring teams. The Jackets sit sixth in goals per game (2.88) despite not having a single 40-point scorer.

Here’s more, from the Dispatch:

Six different players have had game-winning goals during the eight-game streak. Overall the Jackets have scored 33 goals in those eight games, giving the goaltenders an insurance policy they’ve not enjoyed previously.

Here’s the list of players who are on pace for career highs in points: Cam Atkinson, Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Johansen, Mark Letestu and James Wisniewski. Nick Foligno and Fedor Tyutin are on pace to match career-highs.

The Jackets do have some key individual performers. We’ve written about Ryan Johnansen’s breakthrough campaign earlier this season, Sergei Bobrovsky is the reigning Vezina winner and Nathan Horton has been great since returning from injury. But it’s the “glue guys” like Atkinson, Letestu and Matt Calvert that seem to be upping their levels, to the point where Richards didn’t even need a matchup for the Claude Giroux line in Thursday’s win over Philly. He rolled all four throughout the game, and Giroux finished with no points.

“I’m not worried about matchups that much,” Richards said. “There’s somebody stepping up … in these eight games, we’ve had different guys stepping up.”

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