Well, there is certainly a lot to digest and sort through after two formal days of Blue Jackets Training Camp presented by OhioHealth. Oh, and there's an exhibition game less than 48 hours away. No problem, right?
After two days and four practice sessions split between the OhioHealth Ice Haus and Nationwide Arena, we've had the chance to see a lot of players running a lot of different drills and following along with some cool storylines, as well. Every day, we'll check back here on the CBJ Today blog with our thoughts, anecdotes and observations after the dust settles.
There's a chance that these notebooks may occasionally run very long. Actually, there's a really good chance, but I'll try and keep the Friday edition nice and tidy since we've had some good discussion on the live chats, too.
Let's have a look at some of today's notes...
- Oliver Bjorkstrand was impressive yet again. Not only is he sneaky quick and has a great release, but he's fearless on the ice and isn't shy about playing in the high-traffic areas. As a smaller player, that's something coaches look at and he's got it.
TRAINING CAMP CENTRAL
- Curtis McElhinney and Jeremy Smith have been been sharp between the pipes, and that's not to say the other goaltenders haven't been, but those two in particular have impressed. McElhinney has a lot to prove (as he talked about the other day) and he's very thankful for the Blue Jackets giving him another chance in the NHL. On the other hand, Smith is coming to a new organization and working with a new goalie coach and he's excited about the change. I have a feeling he's going to do well in Springfield with Mike McKenna.
- Sergei Bobrovsky has been steady, as well. You can expect to see him in Saturday's open scrimmage and he should get a decent amount of playing time in the preseason games. Todd Richards wants the players ready for Oct. 4 and the best way to do that is by getting into game shape.
- Can't get over how physically imposing Ilari Melart is. When he lays a hit, I feel bad for the person who has to absorb it. Seriously.
- Richards talked about Cam Atkinson having his feet back after last year's ankle injury, and it's easy to see why he's been so impressed. Atkinson has been flying in the first couple of practices and is showing no ill effects from the ankle. Speed and quickness are the hallmarks of Atkinson's game and if he's got those in top form, look out.
- I've been really impressed with RJ Umberger, who spoke earlier this week about dropping seven pounds in the offseason and getting leaner. He's been focused on power skating and being more explosive on the ice, and though it's been only two skates, there's a noticeable difference and he's had a lot of jump.
- Ryan Murray's initials might as well stand for "Real McCoy." He's been terrific in camp so far, and that's coming off a strong performance in the Traverse City prospects tournament last week. Another good sign: no real problems with his surgically-repaired shoulder. He said he's up to about 210 lbs. this year after playing 2012 at around 195.
- Not sure what it is - call it a hunch - but I think Nick Foligno is going to have a strong year. He had some horrible puck luck last season and created a ton of chances, and something tells me he's going to bury a lot more this time around.
- Two guys coming off injuries, Jared Boll and Marian Gaborik, have looked good as well. Richards said Gaborik looks every bit the player that he was in Minnesota and New York, and now that he's 100 percent healthy, he's going to be even more dangerous than he was last season.
- I'm looking forward to seeing Artem Anisimov in game action, because he's been impressive in the first couple of practices. Back to full health after an up-and-down 2012-13 season, Anisimov is likely to center the Gaborik line when the season begins. He was flying this morning.
- One thing Richards really emphasized today was communication. In some of the drills, he paused the proceedings to remind the players that they have to be constantly talking to sort things out in their system. They can't have any grey area, he said, and being vocal on the ice allows them to all be on the same page.
- All players are healthy through two practices, Richards said, aside from some general bumps and bruises. The Blue Jackets should release their complete roster for Sunday's preseason game against the Penguins sometime on Saturday.