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Johansen to make season debut vs. Sabres tonight

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets


Ryan Johansen’s first practice with the Blue Jackets told Todd Richards a few things.

First, there was some obvious and expected rust that is only going to erode with more practice time and more exposure to game-like situations. Second, they need to get Johansen up to game speed and do so quickly, as he is behind the curve after missing all of training camp and the entire preseason.

It took Johansen a little more than 24 hours to get from Vancouver to Toronto, then through immigration and on to Columbus after signing a new three-year, $12 million deal with the Blue Jackets on Monday morning. It may take far longer to get his conditioning up and back to where he was at the end of last season, too.

He practiced Wednesday morning with the Blue Jackets after briefly skating by himself Tuesday night at Nationwide Arena. Johansen skated on a line with Nick Foligno and Cam Atkinson in practice both Wednesday and at Thursday’s morning skate at First Niagara Center in Buffalo.

“Ryan’s part of this team,” Richards said Wednesday. “Everyone knows what kind of impact he can have on this team, so he was welcomed with open arms. He got out on the ice, and there’s some work that needs to be done there both in terms of systematic play, getting him on the same page…when you’ve missed some important time, you’ve got to catch up, so right now we’re going to try to catch up conditioning-wise.”

Here are the other lines used by the Blue Jackets in the morning skate:

Hartnell – Anisimov – Dano

Calvert – Letestu – Wennberg

Cracknell/Skille – Chaput – Boll/Tropp

And on defense:

Johnson – Savard

Erixon – Wisniewski

Tyutin – Prout

Johansen, not surprisingly, said he’ll be ready to play tonight.

“I’m very excited. Yesterday’s skate in Columbus was pretty good,” Johansen said after today’s morning skate. “I was a little tired, mostly from all the travel and stuff. But (after) a good night’s rest and the skate this morning, I felt really good.

“I have to make sure I’m managing it well, and I have to be smart and make the right decisions out there. If I get caught (on a long shift) I might not have the legs that some of these guys in the room have right now. But in saying that, I think they trust in me that I’ll make the right plays and get the job done.”

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