We're down to one group of players at Blue Jackets Training Camp after this week's cuts, and that group took the ice for a late-morning skate today at the OhioHeath Ice Haus.
The emphasis? Building off the first week of camp, which included a lot of fundamentals and a refresher course to the systematics of what the Blue Jackets want to do on the ice. As has been mentioned multiple times in this space, Todd Richards keeps hammering home the need to play with pace and do things fast.
TRAINING CAMP CENTRAL
They played a fast game (at least in the final two periods) against the Carolina Hurricanes earlier this week, and Richards liked a lot of what he saw in the third period, when the Blue Jackets overwhelmed the Hurricanes and struck for three straight goals.
It's a start, Richards said, but there's still a ways to go before they're ready for opening night - which is now exactly two weeks (!) away.
Without further ado, let's get into today's notebook:
- Richards provided some injury updates on the players absent from today's practice. Matt Calvert (groin) is "getting closer" to a return and wanted to play tomorrow in Pittsburgh, Richards said, but they want him ready for opening night and aren't going to push it.
- Nikita Nikitin took a wicked shot from Hurricanes rookie defenseman Ryan Murphy off the skate boot on Wednesday and it caused some serious damage to the skate. Richards said there was no fracture but Nikitin should miss a few more days before he's ready to return.
- Curtis McElhinney missed today's practice due to a lower-body injury, Richards said, an ailment that is expected to keep him out 1-2 weeks. That obviously takes him pretty close to opening night, and could open the backup goaltender's spot (if only for a short period of time). Richards didn't say if either of Jeremy Smith or Mike McKenna has the inside track on the spot while McElhinney's out. Both guys have played well in preseason action.
- Here are the power play units the Blue Jackets practiced with today:
1) Atkinson - Dubinsky - Gaborik
Johnson - Wisniewski
2) Jenner - Anisimov - Johansen
Letestu - Tyutin
- Dalton Prout was back on the ice today and took part in the full practice, and Richards said he's likely to play in a couple of the remaining preseason games.
- Spoke with Brandon Dubinsky about the possibility of being Gaborik's center to open the season, and if it's motivating him at all. He said it's not a big deal, and he's up for whatever puts the team in the best position to win. But there's no denying how well that line played on Wednesday in Raleigh. Dubinsky in particular was in what the kids call "beast mode."
- We posted tomorrow's Blue Jackets roster against Pittsburgh on our training camp page. The skinny: Bobrovsky starts in goal and Smith backs him up. The Blue Jackets will bring seven defensemen with them to Pittsburgh, as well.