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Forecheck an item of emphasis on Day 1

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

And just like that, vacation was over.

The Blue Jackets officially kicked off Training Camp presented by OhioHealth this morning in the Ice Haus with two sessions that ran an hour-plus each, and to no one’s surprise, they got right down to business. 

Todd Richards said he wanted to spend some time reviewing the concepts that made the Blue Jackets successful a year ago, in particular their aggressive forecheck and responsible defensive zone coverage. It was a good way to refresh the memories of returning players and introduce new faces to the Blue Jackets’ system, which will be taught in both on and off-ice practices.

Another thing Richards was looking for was a high pace, and the players agreed it was ever-present.

“I think we pulled that out today,” Nick Foligno said of the tempo in practice. “It was good to hammer home those important parts of our game, especially the forecheck – that was a big part of our team last year and (Richards wanted) to get the guys thinking about that early on.

“The d-zone is how we’re going to win games; those are the two main components that need to be solidified before the start of the preseason and the start of the (regular) season, and it was good to hit on them early.”

Two-plus weeks of informal practices were a useful lead-up to training camp, Foligno said, but there’s no true replacement for an organized practice and working on parts of the game that need polish.

With the preseason schedule beginning in just two days, the Blue Jackets don’t have much time to get tuned up but their objective is to make the most of the time they are afforded.

“It was nice to get into a more uniform style of hockey and have a practice planned for you instead of trying to figure out your own drills,” Foligno said. “(The high pace) gets you excited. Games are just around the corner and we all want to get in that kind of environment.

“When you can do that in practice and get those habits going at a quick pace, it only helps you in games.”

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