Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards began his meeting with the media today by talking about the Cleveland Browns.
Why? He believes there are a lot of similarities between the two teams, and with the Browns coming off an emphatic victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, there’s positive energy and a renewed sense of optimism surrounding the team. It’s not unlike the Blue Jackets, who captivated Columbus with a spirited second-half run to get into the playoffs a year ago, setting franchise records for wins (43) and points (93) along the way.
“There’s some parallels,” Richards said. “And then it becomes a belief. I’m just an armchair quarterback, coach, whatever you want to call it…but when you start to pound the ball and run the ball and just bury over guys, that’s like having an aggressive forecheck and playing in their zone. That’s feeling it.
“You see the way that they play and you’re going to be in for a battle and a fight. You want guys to care and you want guys that care about one another.”
Richards wasn’t ready to declare the Browns as Super Bowl contenders, but said they’re going to be a handful every week for any opponent.
Returning to hockey, the Blue Jackets went through an hour-long skate at Nationwide Arena this morning but were without Nick Foligno, who has skated the first two games alongside Ryan Johansen and Cam Atkinson.
Richards said he expects Foligno to play tomorrow night vs. Dallas after a maintenance day today.
Here’s how the Blue Jackets practiced:
Hartnell – Anisimov – Wennberg
Tropp*- Johansen – Atkinson
Calvert – Letestu – Dano
Skille – Chaput – Boll/Cracknell
Johnson – Savard
Erixon – Wisniewski
Tyutin – Prout
Other notes from the morning practice:
- Ryan Murray (knee) doesn’t have a timetable for a return to game action, but it’s become quite obvious that he’s getting nearer with each practice. He took part in a fully involved skate today and felt good afterward, but he hasn’t circled any dates on the calendar just yet.
“It’s not really up to me,” Murray said. “It’s great to see (the first two wins). We’re all working together for the same goal. Obviously you want to play and be part of everything, but at the same time, if we’re winning then it’s always a good thing.”
- The Blue Jackets and Murray want to be cautious and 100 percent certain that when he returns, it’s only when he’s more than ready to do so. Making it easier for Murray is the team’s early season success, and a total defensive effort that’s resulted in only three goals against in two games.
- Richards on the defense corps so far: “We’ve been fine. The way (Craig Hartsburg) has used them, you can see the trust in every group. Tyuts was a +5 last game and it says a lot about how he’s been playing. Wiz and Timmy have been a little different because maybe you give them some more offensive opportunities, first on the power play. All six guys have done a good job. There’s a reason why we’re 2-0 and have given up three goals, and it’s because our defense has been good.”