Coach Todd Richards didn't want to get into too many details about what kind of system the Blue Jackets will employ this season. When pressed on the club's forechecking style, for instance, Richards cut off a question with a joke: "I'm not going to tell you everything we're going to do."

But there's another reason for this, beyond the secretive nature of coaches.

The Blue Jackets, who open the season tonight at the Nashville Predators, have reached a point where the system doesn't matter nearly as much as the way it is played.

"It won't be the system that determines our fate this season," Richards said. "It will be determined by our commitment to the system we're playing. That's it. Simple."

The Blue Jackets, with five new players in the lineup after an active offseason, hope they have transformed their roster and their identity — from a delicate club that tried to score from the perimeter and checked the puck without physical confrontation, to a club that will crash and bang to create scoring chances and swarm to the puck defensively.

The players the Blue Jackets acquired are working-class — forwards Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov and Nick Foligno and defenseman Adrian Aucoin. So are some of the holdovers — forwards Derek Dorsett and R.J. Umberger and defenseman James Wisniewski.

"We want to push the pace," defenseman Jack Johnson said. "We're not going to lull teams to sleep; we want to jump 'em. We have size and speed, and we want to use that to our advantage."

Fans who paid close attention last season might be casting a wary eye toward the Blue Jackets. They have heard this previously. Last year's club wasn't hard to play against; it was hard to watch.