Consistency amidst change. Victory amidst adversity.
This challenge is what the Blue Jackets will be battling for tonight at Nationwide Arena as they take on the reigning Stanley Cup champions, the Los Angeles Kings.
Before the season even started, coach Todd Richards stressed the importance of the organization's depth at the NHL level and beyond. With recent injuries to core players such as James Wisniewski, Nikita Nikitin, and Cam Atkinson, this is what he meant when he said they would need everyone in order to win.
“Injuries are going to become a factor, and right now they’re a factor,” Richards said after the morning skate today.
Defensemen Cody Goloubef and Nick Holden are among the newest additions to the Blue Jackets roster after the team placed Nikitin and Adrian Aucoin on injured reserve in the last 48 hours. They join Tim Erixon as the most recent players recalled from the Blue Jackets' American Hockey League affiliate, the Springfield Falcons.
The transition from the AHL to the NHL can be a challenge, but Richards said the adjustment has been easier for the new players because of the consistencies in the coaching philosophies and systems that the Blue Jackets have established with Falcons.
“Springfield’s done a really good job," Richards said. "The coaches down there have done a really good job, and they’re gonna get tested."
Still, there is a marked difference in the speed and intensity of NHL hockey that is unmatched by any other league. It’s a fact that Richards said he and the coaching staff have observed in the players who have been recalled.
“It’s much different than what they’ve been used to,” he said. “The first period can be a bit of an adjustment, it can be overwhelming at times. We’ve found that after the first, they’ve kinda settled into their game.”
He said the challenge for every player on the team, not just the Springfield players, will be to play a consistent game despite the roster changes.
“We can’t be this team that you win one, and lose one,” Richards said. “It was a good step on Saturday – I still think there’s a lot of room for improvement for our group, but it was a good step.”