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Johnson is latest to arrive in Columbus

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

The group of Blue Jackets players skating at the OhioHealth Ice Haus gained one more member this morning: defenseman Jack Johnson.

He hasn't been in town for long, but one of the first things Johnson wanted to do was get back together with his teammates -- some of whom he hasn't seen in months nor played a game with since April. The palpable sense of excitement that came with yesterday's maiden skate carried over to this morning, and like the previous session, R.J. Umberger took the informal lead and kept things organized.

Not much changed from yesterday's skate, but there were more "battle" drills and competitive reps that weren't present on Monday. As the number of players on the ice increases (and we expect that to be the case in the next 48 hours), the nature of the practices should change accordingly.

But this morning, Johnson said the highlight was being back where he wants to be.

"It's great...I haven't seen these guys in a while and we've been keeping in touch over the phone," Johnson said. "It kind of makes it more of a reality now that I'm back here skating with the guys and being around the locker room, and moving back into our places."

Johnson essentially stayed put during the lockout and skated with local teams in Michigan, both getting a workout and lending a helping hand with youth hockey programs when given the opportunity. Keeping his workout regimen intact was his primary focus, and Johnson said he went to the gym every day to ensure that when the season gets started, he would be in peak condition.

With an abbreviated training camp on the horizon, conditioning is going to be one of the challenges for teams getting up to speed -- but after today's skate, Johnson said he has no reservations about the Blue Jackets' readiness.

"I don't think we're really looking at (a short camp) as much of challenge," Johnson said. "We're a pretty young team. Everyone's expected to take care of themselves anyway, and usually training camps aren't that much fun.

"It makes us really anxious to get going and get playing. I think we still have the same amount of excitement, just the small group of guys we have here now, that we had at the end of the year last year. We have a good team and a great group of guys in there and we're looking forward to proving a lot of people wrong, because a lot of people haven't given us much credit."

Johnson and his "controlled chaos" defense partner, James Wisniewski, were the lone defensemen on the ice for today's skate but that's soon to change. The consensus by many -- including Blue Jackets president of hockey operations John Davidson -- is that the team's strength is on defense, and Johnson did not disagree.

"It's a challenge in every game to score as many goals as we can, and stop them," Johnson said. "It's a fun thing for us. I think our team has a great attitude in that we don't look at it as pressure.

"We set our own expectations, and usually, they're higher than everyone else's."

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