For the first time in what has seemed like an eternity, the Blue Jackets had a full complement of 23 skaters on the ice for practice today.
That's 13 forwards, eight defensemen and two goaltenders...and one of the PGA Tour's best players. But we'll get to that last part in a minute.
It was day two of a three-day practice week getting ready for the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night, and the Blue Jackets spent their hour-long practice reinforcing some of the concepts they've worked on over the past three weeks. Spoiler alert: yes, that includes the power play.
Head coach Todd Richards employed the same forward lines and defense pairs that we saw in yesterday's practice:
Atkinson - Dubinsky - Gaborik
Calvert - Anisimov - Comeau
Foligno - Johansen - Umberger
Letestu - MacKenzie - Boll / Jenner - MacKenzie - Letestu
Johnson - Prout
Murray - Wisniewski
Nikitin - Savard
Tyutin - Erixon
And now, for today's newsworthy updates...
- Jason Day, good friend of James Wisniewski and several other Blue Jackets players, took the ice for (allegedly) the first time ever today after practice. It was a big event; most of the team stuck around on the ice and helped him along. He didn't fare too bad, either. Curtis McElhinney, who took some shots from Day, told Wisniewski that "he didn't know where the puck was going" when Day let it go.
- Richards said Boll looks ready to go and should be in the lineup on Thursday night. That means a decision is forthcoming up front; one forward will need to be scratched if Boll rejoins the mix.
- On the back end, Tyutin returned to practice sans no-contact jersey and looked to be a full-go participant. Richards said Tyutin's target is to play Saturday afternoon against Boston at Nationwide Arena if all goes well this week.
- Richards on Tyutin: "Right now he's back on the ice and starting to get back into the fold and into the mix. Right now, we're trying to target Saturday but we'll see."
- As for the power play, it's currently operating at 40 percent and yes, it's very early, but there are still some encouraging signs. Richards said "we can still be better" on the power play and they have a lot of things they want to work on, but they're doing a lot of things well. What did Richards like best? The fact that they used the power play to turn Saturday's game around.
- Richards on the power play: "The positive is that - if we don't score a goal in Saturday's game on the power - I don't know if we win the game. That was a key moment down two goals, and you're sitting there saying we need a goal there. If you don't get one it becomes real demoralizing. We got one and you could see what it did to the bench."