OXFORD, OHIO — The Blue Jackets departed Oxford, Ohio this afternoon – but not without getting another down-to-business practice under their belts.
This morning’s second and final session at Goggin Ice Center did not lack competitive spirit or attention to detail. Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel wanted the two days at Miami University to be both relaxing and productive, and he said after practice he got a lot of both.
Lines and pairings switched throughout the 90-minute practice, and the coaching staff put the players through several “battle” drills and special teams reps. After yesterday’s practice and golf outing, Arniel said he was able to check many things off the to-do list for the two day trip.
“We’ve worked on a lot, we’ve done video and some review video too,” Arniel said. “We had a real good day yesterday – that was a boring, stand-around practice, but it was predominantly all the little things on special teams.
“We’ll get back at it tomorrow, hopefully with some more flow to it and be ready for Friday night.”
As for the practice itself, the pace was high throughout and you could see some chemistry starting to take shape among the top six forwards. There were 2-on-1 drills, 3-on-2 speed drills and many reps geared toward getting pucks to the net – something that the Blue Jackets want to be a hallmark of their power play this season.
“We talk about offense, whether it’s the power play or 5-on-5, you have to shoot pucks,” Arniel said this morning. “You have to get pucks through the traffic, and the guys that we have (on defense and playing the power-play points) can fire it pretty well.”
With just three days left until opening night (and two full practice days, Arniel said each practice session must stress details and make sure all players know the specifics of the systems. On the ice, Arniel has been pleased with the progress of his top two lines, and the options they give him once the season begins.
“I like the fact that we’ve got two weapons up front, and two lines that can be dangerous,” Arniel said.
BACK ON CAMPUS
The Blue Jackets have three players that played collegiate hockey: R.J. Umberger (Ohio State), Grant Clitsome (Clarkson) and Cam Atkinson (Boston College). Of the three, Clitsome played all four years at Clarkson but for all, the past two days were good for re-living memories from college.
Many of the Blue Jackets players and coaches commented on the excellent facilities and beautiful campus at Miami, but for Atkinson, this was kind of old hat.
“It’s always good to be back in a college atmosphere,” Atkinson told BlueJackets.com. “I told people yesterday that it makes me miss all of the guys back at Boston College.
“For me it’s been cool to see everyone walking around campus with their back packs on and going to their classes.”
Of course: classes, the inevitable part of college.
Surely Atkinson misses sitting in a lecture hall, right?
“No, I don’t miss that,” he joked.
NEWS AND NOTES
-The NHL’s roster deadline is set for tomorrow at 3 p.m. The Blue Jackets’ roster currently stands at 24 players, so one more assignment must be made prior to the deadline. No roster moves are scheduled for today.
-Center Derek MacKenzie (lower-body) skated with strength and conditioning coach Kevin Collins before practice this morning. The pair went through a hard workout for more than 30 minutes geared toward getting MacKenzie back to game shape.
-Tomorrow’s practice is slated for 10:30 a.m. at Nationwide Arena and is open to the public.