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Mixer's Mailbag: On better starts, Pokemon & more

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

Back by popular demand (really, because I need something to do), the mailbag returns for a second straight year. Remember: send your questions to @RobMixer, and as always, food questions move to the top.

Alan Elwood (@ElwoodBlues614)
Most likely rookie you think will make the team come opening night?

There are certainly a handful of contenders, aren’t there?

I think Zach Werenski is pretty close to a lock to make the team. Not only was his American Hockey League run extremely impressive – assimilating to a new league quickly in the regular season and then becoming a dominant player in the Calder Cup playoffs – but there’s a clear need for a player of his ability in Columbus.

He’s a high-level thinker and moves the puck extremely well on the back end. You always hear coaches preach to defensemen about getting the puck into the hands of the forwards as quickly and efficiently as possible, and that’s something Werenski, at a young age, has proven he’s capable of doing and doing so quite well. What we also saw in the AHL playoffs is how he always finds a way to get the puck to the net: it doesn't have to be the big bomb (and he can shoot it), but a quick wrister that eludes traffic and gets to the goaltender can do damage, as well. His coaches love that about him.

To me, those things gives him a head start in the category of “rookie who has a good chance of making the opening night roster.”

Ella (@tofuidol)
Have you recovered yet from
Matt Calvert owning you On Line last mailbag?

I’m glad you asked, because I haven’t. I got owned pretty good.

But as the golf gods would have it, I played some of my best golf this summer in the days after Matt’s Twitter burn. I’ll take it.

Ryan Boulding (@rboulding)
Best Pokemon found near the dressing room?

I’m still trying to figure out Nationwide Arena – which is a gym – and where the Pokemon are hiding. So far, I’m collecting a lot of Drowzee and Rattata, which is fine if you’re trying to get the lame Pokemon all day. You have to get out and about, check out the metro parks etc., because that seems to be where the Pokemon are.

By the way, the cannon outside section 111 is a Pokestop so I’m pretty excited to see how this unfolds once the season starts. There’s already a large fan gathering at the cannon after the first period, and I feel like there will be a few more people around it this year…myself included.

Ben Novotny (@bn620)
Here are a few: Team participating in prospects tournament? When are you playing the @ColumbusCrewSC staff in soccer?

Yes, Ben, the Blue Jackets are headed back to the NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City this fall. The tournament is typically held in mid-to-late September and it sounds as though this year’s is booked for somewhere in that vicinity. The Blue Jackets are seeking their third consecutive title in a tournament we’ve come to expect them to play well in; the pipeline seems to get better each year and there are always a group of exciting names on the Columbus roster. I expect that’ll be the case come September and we’ll see the Blue Jackets’ youngsters vying for another prospects tournament crown.

Secondly: we are, against our better judgment, playing the Crew SC staff in the first week of August at beautiful MAPFRE Stadium. Team CBJ squeaked out a 2-1 win in the first leg of the Columbus Cup held at Nationwide Arena, but a lot of credit goes to a much-improved Crew SC hockey team. It was a battle right to the end.

The soccer game did not go well last year (it went quite terribly, actually) but I expect we’ll be more competitive this time around. Maybe. Who knows. Probably not.

Stumbleweed (@SeeminglyCursed)
Consider the 1st 10 #CBJ regular season games this fall: at what point should we relax? 5-5? 6-4? Asking for a nervous friend...

Dear nervous friend: can we get through training camp first?

If you’re the Blue Jackets, you should never relax and they certainly don't have that mentality. There’s plenty of fire burning from the sting of previous slow starts, and you can bet your life savings that it’s the No. 1, 2, 3, 4 and maybe 5-10 items of emphasis for John Tortorella once training camp begins.

There are no excuses and there is no beating around the bush: this group needs a stabilizing start. Not only will it set them up for the rest of the season but it would be a breath of fresh air, perhaps leading to some added confidence the rest of the way.

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