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Game Day Blog: vs. Carolina

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

11:55 A.M.:
Derek Dorsett on Jackets TV:

11:35 A.M.:
Morning Skate quotes - Todd Richards

Blue Jackets interim head coach Todd Richards met with the media following the skate. Here is the full transcript of his comments:

On what it will take to beat the Hurricanes tonight: "It's going to take a solid effort from everyone. Looking at some of their games, it's probably one of the most aggressive teams we've come across with how they play. It looks like they're real aggressive two guys all over the ice on forechecks and face-offs. That causes problems because you're going to have to play quick and fast. Their defense closes gaps quickly, so there's not a lot of room. It's managing the puck, making good decisions and moving the puck quick. If you move it quick enough, it doesn't allow them to get into position and you can counter and get on the attack. The other thing they possess is hope, confidence in their game. That's a powerful thing. It will be a good challenge for us tonight."

On the changes he hopes to see with the line changes in the top six: "I'd like to see a few more goals. But just some positive momentum and creativity in the offensive zone, creating more chances -- that's what I want to see. If we're creating more chances, we're doing some positive things there and obviously the changes are the right changes for the team. It's creating more offense. The only change I made was moving Rick and swapping him out with Cam. I really liked the way Mark (Letestu), Cam and Vinny (Prospal) were playing. We really need more production out of Derick, R.J. and Rick. It was just moving one of those guys, and I think Cam came up and did a good job. With Rick, I see a good fit with Vinny and Mark."

On the emphasis placed on the power play in practice: "We practiced it (yesterday) for about 15 or 20 minutes. It was no different than previous days. We had a good meeting today. It's something that we have to talk about just because we're not scoring. It's no different than when the power play's going really well and you're talking about it a lot, because usually you're having success. Again, it's creating that positive momentum and those chances on the power play that I want to see."

On Derek MacKenzie's status: "He's not playing tonight. I would say he's day-to-day."

Asked about the addition of Jack Johnson, and what it has meant to the Blue Jackets: "Watching him, he's a guy that can play 30-plus minutes. It's been impressive to watch that. In the Calgary game when Wisniewski got hurt, we were down to five (defensemen) and the game goes to overtime. I don't know if he tires out on the ice. He's a guy that can play a lot of minutes, play in every different situation...power play, penalty kill, four-on-four, five-on-five and against other team's top lines. He really gives you a lot of flexibility on the back end with how you want to use him. He's kind of injected our team with some enthusiasm. When you acquire a guy at the trade deadline, there's enthusiasm there. He wants to be a difference in our organization and a difference on our team. I've said it's been really refreshing."

... and some pictures from this morning

11:20 A.M.:
Morning Skate quotes - Cam Atkinson

Atkinson has moved up to play with two new linemates, and was there to ask him about it.

On making the switch to play with Umberger and Brassard: "I just try to go out there and use my speed to my benefit. I've been trying to knock home a couple of rebounds (lately), but I feel good. Our line was doing well out there today so hopefully we can get a couple goals tonight. All three of us are very similar, but we have different style of play. Brass can score goals, but he's definitely looking to pass first. Umby is a big body who can score and go to the net...I can hopefully use my speed to take guys wide, and (the line mates) can pound in the rebounds."

On the defensive responsiblity against a fast Hurricanes team: "That's the main part of the game. They're going to try and create offensive chances, so that has to be our focal point. (The last stretch of the season) is about taking care of your body and nutrition. But you can't look ahead - you have to start with today and this is going to be a tough game.

10:55 A.M.:
Morning Skate quotes - Derek Dorsett

We caught up with Dorsett after the morning skate and talked about tonight's game, how to slow down the Hurricanes' skilled forwards and getting back to the "score first" mentality the Blue Jackets had during their recent four-game winning streak.

On if it's a challenge to face a team you only see once a year: "Not really. Nowadays, we pre-scout so much that we get a few of the game on video and we'll go over it before the game, and know what to expect. Lots of guys watch games, so it's pretty self-explanatory. Obviously, it's going to be a little bit different, but we'll get their systems and stuff before the game."

Does it come down to worrying about the Blue Jackets and their game plan? "That's what we're worrying about right now. It doesn't matter who we're playing, just about the way we play and what we have to do."

How difficult will it be to slow down a team with a lot of skill, like Carolina? "They're a hot team right now, and they're playing really well. They have a lot of skilled guys over there and they come at teams hard. They're maybe one of the teams that pushes the hardest, so we have to make sure we're ready for it."

On scoring first tonight: "Whenever you can get on the board early in the game, it's obviously a plus. Either way, we have to make sure that whatever happens, we keep playing for the full 60 minutes."

10:35 A.M.:

Steve Mason was the first goaltender off the ice after the morning skate, suggesting he's the likely starter tonight vs. the Hurricanes. In three career starts against Carolina, Mason is 3-0-0 with a 1.67 goals-against average and a .940 save percentage.

10:25 A.M.:
The morning skate is wrapping up now. Derek MacKenzie looks to have been the last skater to reach interim head coach Todd Richards, so he gets the honor of skating an extra lap following the skate. As Richards told us yesterday, MacKenzie will not play tonight vs. the Hurricanes but is progressing toward a return.

As the players start to make their way to the locker room, we will catch up with them and get updates on tonight's starting goaltender.

10:05 A.M.:

It looks as if the lines used in yesterday's practice are going to be used for tonight's game. Interim head coach Todd Richards said yesterday that it would be a possibility, and it looks to be the case. Cam Atkinson will move up and play alongside R.J. Umberger and Derick Brassard, while Rick Nash will slot on the right side of Vinny Prospal and Mark Letestu.

Nash and Prospal had great chemistry together at the start of the season, so it's a combination that has worked before.

Here are the lines being used by the Blue Jackets in today's morning skate:

Jack Johnson-Savard
Nikitin-Aaron Johnson


9:55 A.M.:

Good morning from Nationwide Arena! It's a game day (and a Friday) as the Blue Jackets take on the Carolina Hurricanes tonight. We're posted up at the morning skate, so keep an eye on this blog for all the latest news and updates on the game. While we're waiting for the Blue Jackets to trickle on to the ice here, make sure to visit for today's edition of "GAME DAY," our exclusive preview breaking down the game vs. Carolina.

Here is the link to GAME DAY.

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