The Blue Jackets went through one of their most grueling and demanding 90-minute practices of the season this morning in the OhioHealth Ice Haus, and coach Scott Arniel had a list of things he wanted to address after a 6-4 loss in St. Louis.
The major lineup news coming out of the weekend was the decision to spread out the scoring in the top six. Rick Nash and Jeff Carter were placed on separate lines against the Blues and the Blue Jackets were able to score four goals as a result. We’ll have more on the new-look top six with a full-length feature on BlueJackets.com later this afternoon.
Steve Mason was the primary goaltender today and sported a new set of pads. The fresh pads come from Vaughn, his equipment supplier, and are a similar style to his third-jersey pads only with red, silver and blue. Unlike his old pads (which were white), these are a dark blue.
Mason made back-to-back starts yesterday after Curtis Sanford had an injury issue in the morning. Arniel said Sanford should join the team for practice tomorrow if there are no further problems.
“As long as everything’s ok, and nothing happens tonight while he’s sleeping or going to the kitchen, he’ll be in practice tomorrow,” Arniel said.
Arniel said there are no plans to recall a goaltender at this time, but with equipment manager Tim LeRoy stepping in to fill the other practice net, why even consider it?
“Did you see Timmy today?” Arniel joked.
All kidding aside, Arniel stressed the details in today’s practice due to a stretch of four games in six nights that did not allow much practice time. Following a day off yesterday to recharge for the upcoming week, Arniel said his team responded well today.
“There were some areas in the last couple of games that we had to pay a little more attention to,” he said. “It’s hard not to cover it 5-on-5 and that’s why it ended being a (longer session). There’s some stuff that needs to be worked on, and we have a few days to implement some stuff and you don’t get a lot of time to work on that (with the recent schedule).”
It doesn’t take much for players to get revved up for games against division rivals, and there was a lot snarl in Sunday’s game against the Blues. There have been playoff-style games played between the two clubs frequently over the last few seasons, and it all starts with physical play.
The Blue Jackets and St. Louis finished every check up and down the ice, and it raised the level of both teams considerably. While it was an easy game to coach because the players are fired up, Arniel was frustrated that the same level wasn’t reached on the recent homestand.
“The area that bothers me is, ‘why didn’t we do the same thing against LA and Tampa?’” Arniel said. “I know they’re not the same makeup and it’s not the same rivalry, but why aren’t we the same and intense in our building? I think that’s a lesson we’re trying to teach our team: instead of waiting to see how things turn out, that we go out and initiate.
“As much as we knew (the Blues) were going to be physical, we got after them right off the bat and put them back on their heels. That’s what we need to do all the time, especially in our building, too.”
NEWS AND NOTES
-Arniel said James Wisniewski’s absence from practice was a maintenance day to rest a lower-body injury suffered in St. Louis. Late in the second period, Wisniewski was involved in a collision at the blue line and hobbled to the bench just before Mark Letestu scored the go-ahead power play goal.
-The Blue Jackets skated in these line combinations today at practice:
Nash – Brassard – Umberger
Prospal – Carter – Letestu
Vermette – Pahlsson – Dorsett
Boll – MacKenzie – Johansen
Tyutin – Nikitin
Methot – Johnson
Moore – Clitsome