Sometimes, quickly turning the page after an exhibition game can be a useful thing.
The Blue Jackets did that today, less than 12 hours after a thrilling (and surprisingly intense) preseason affair with the Pittsburgh Penguins - their newly-minted, snarly division rival from three hours east - and got right back to work in practice. After all, Training Camp presented by OhioHealth is six days old and there's still plenty to work on before they play another game.
TRAINING CAMP CENTRAL
As for that next game, it's tomorrow night (and there are actually two games). The Blue Jackets are splitting the squad in half on Tuesday, playing a road game vs. the Minnesota Wild and a home game against the Buffalo Sabres. Full rosters for both games can be found by visiting our Training Camp Central page.
Both practices were held at Nationwide Arena this morning and each ran about an hour, with Todd Richards going over more systematic items like neutral zone play, defensive zone assignments and much more.
As far as camp cuts are concerned, Richards said he expects a round of cuts to come after Wednesday's game in Carolina, and that the roster should be down to one group of players by the end of the week.
Here are some notes and observations from both sessions...
Group B - 10 a.m. skate: Rob Mixer (@RobMixer)
- I was interested to see how Cam Atkinson skated this morning after playing last night against Pittsburgh and putting his now-healthy ankle to the test. He was skating crisply and quickly like we're accustomed to seeing and Richards said he really liked Atkinson's third period on Sunday. Atkinson is slated to play in Minnesota tomorrow night.
- The battle for roster spots on the blue line is alive and well in Group B, with three guys (Tim Erixon, Ilari Melart and Ryan Murray) in the mix for one of the last two openings on defense. Melart didn't have his best game against the Penguins, but he'll get more playing time in subsequent exhibitions games. Murray got better with time last night and Erixon, who didn't play against Pittsburgh, draws in for his preseason action at home against Buffalo tomorrow.
- Looking forward to seeing youngsters Nick Moutrey and Josh Anderson play against the Sabres tomorrow. Both guys play a similarly combative and aggressive style, and you know they're beyond ready to suit for an NHL game. They won't be making any friends, and that's going to make it even more fun to watch.
- Blake Comeau has quietly had himself a nice camp so far. He's been solid in practice and also the scrimmage, and as I've said a few times, I think he's going to be a "glue" piece for the Blue Jackets. He loves playing here and has a lot of motivation going into the season.
- Fans at Nationwide Arena tomorrow night will get their first look at Sergei Bobrovsky in game action since April 27, as he's scheduled to start against Buffalo and play at least the first two periods. Mike McKenna is backing him up and I expect McKenna to get some time between the pipes, as well.
Group A - 12 p.m. skate: Kristyn Repke (@kristynrepke)
- This afternoon's goalies were feeling last night's game (Oscar Dansk and Curtis McElhinney) as Jeremy Smith was the sharpest of the trio. Smith and Dansk will head off to Minnesota for tomorrow night's game, which will be Smith's first preseason and NHL action of his career. If he performs the way he has in practice all week, he should come up big for the younger squad in Minnesota.
- Cody Goloubef, who flew under the radar last night against Pittsburgh and had a solid night, had another strong day of practice alongside Nikita Nikitin. The two spent extensive time together during drills and were blocking a ton of shots. Though Nikitin has the night off and Goloubef will play in Minnesota tomorrow night, they're a combination that could be tested out in preseason games down the road.
- We'll get our first look at the defensive pair of Jack Johnson and Fedor Tyutin, who found a lot of end-of-season success down the stretch last year. The two have been partnered with each other since day one of training camp and will see game action tomorrow at home versus the Sabres.
- After watching both Ilari Melart and James Wisniewski fight against Pittsburgh, Jared Boll is ready to showcase his physicality at home against Buffalo for the first time this preseason. He has worked at his positioning and coverage this week and improved his skating speed in the off-season--two aspects of heavy hits that the opposition will need to be aware of.
- Nick Foligno will get his first game of the 2013-14 NHL preseason tomorrow night against Buffalo, and it will be interesting to see how his teammates feed off his energy. Today's practice went in typical Foligno fashion with a lot fun but a lot of focus. He's a player you'll want to pay close attention to this season.