Cody Golobeuf had just skated in his second-ever NHL game. Unfortunately for the Columbus Blue Jackets, it was a home loss to the L.A. Kings. But the youngster had held his own, going 1 in 15:37 minutes of play, with a shot on goal. Did it matter that it was the defending champs who were on the other side of the red line for his 2013 debut?
No, I didnt really think about it, said the Blue Jackets second-round pick in 2008. The NHL is the NHL to me, and any team is going to be good. Everybody has their superstars, so I wasnt really looking at the names on the back, just more or less the black jerseys coming at us.
So many times when young guys get the call to the big club, they play tentatively, hoping not to make mistakes. Ironically, that can be the biggest mistake of all, because that approach means those players arent playing to their strengths. Its hard to impress NHL head coaches when youre not showcasing your best attributes.
Golobeuf was focused on making sure that wasnt the case with him. He wanted to keep it simple, yes, but he also wanted to make sure he was playing his game and playing to his skill set.
Yeah, I just try to utilize my skating, he explained. I feel if my feet are moving its the best I can do to help myself succeed. Just play strong and move my feet, and that kind of takes care of itself, the rest of it.
The 23-year-old defenseman felt more confidence coming into the NHL this time, a byproduct of the success he and the Springfield Falcons have been enjoying this season in the American Hockey League. Any hockey development expert will tell you its always better to develop a young player in a winning environment, and Golobeufs confidence level has benefitted from Springfields strong year.
You know, I think it was good, he noted. Nolan Pratt (Springfield asst. coach) does a lot of one-on-one video stuff with us, and he really focuses on paying attention to detail. I felt I was ready to make the jump, and it does help a lot when your mindset is that youre ready to go, and you think youre ready, it helps a lot when youre up here.
Usually when players make the jump from the AHL, its the greater size and speed in the NHL thats most apparent. But Golobeuf says the greater skill in the NHL can make it easier to adjust.
Its quicker, but its more controlled at the same time, so its not as much chaos, pointed out the University of Wisconsin product. Guys arent flying around out of position all the time. Everyone stays within the structure, within their guidelines. So it is quicker and youve got to make quicker decisions. But at the same time, you know the guys going to be there if you need an out, which makes it nice.
With injuries still plaguing the Columbus Blue Jackets, especially on the back line, Golobeuf had a chance to play in his third NHL game, vs. the Calgary Flames. This time, the Blue Jackets took the game to overtime before falling on an Alex Tanguay blast from the right circle. But even though the result was a little different, Golobeufs approach was rock steady. He says its the only way he tries to play any game, no matter the level.
Simplicity and clean, he said of his style of play. Just fly under the radar and play hard, jump into the play whenever I get the chance, and make sure Im making good plays getting out of the zone. I think thats the biggest thing is not spending too much time in our own zone. So when I have a chance to make a crisp pass or make a play in my own zone, Im going to look to make that play and move my feet.
Clean and simple. Thats Golobeufs game. Play hard and play to your strengths; no need to change it at this level. On the contrary, thats most probably his best ticket, or any players best ticket, to a full-time job in the NHL.