Before departing for Philadelphia to kick off a four-games-in-six-days road trip, the Blue Jackets held a 45-minute practice in the OhioHealth Ice Haus this morning.
There was a little bit of everything on Todd Richards’ agenda, including work on the breakouts, special teams and some battle drills. He was particularly disappointed in the noticeable drop-off between their performances against the Flyers on Friday (a come-from-behind 4-3 OT win) and Saturday’s lopsided loss to the New York Islanders, citing a lack of puck support and puck management that fed into the Islanders’ attacking mentality.
“We did a lot of the right things on Friday, and we didn’t do a lot on Saturday,” Richards said.
One news item of note today was the imminent return of Brian Gibbons. With Gibbons on the verge of being ready to play, the Blue Jackets placed him on waivers at noon Monday, and should he clear at noon (ET) Tuesday, the plan is for him to be assigned to Springfield and work his way back into game shape.
During today’s practice, Gibbons took line rushes on the fourth line with Mark Letestu and Jared Boll.
MAINTENANCE DAYS & UPDATES
The Blue Jackets practiced today without James Wisniewski and Nick Foligno, both of whom played in Saturday’s game on Long Island. Richards said both players took maintenance days today and will make the trip to Philadelphia.
As for Dalton Prout – who also missed practice – the news isn’t as good, at least in the near term. Prout is not traveling to Philadelphia but there’s a chance he could rejoin the Blue Jackets for any of the remaining three games in Pittsburgh, Montreal or New York.
Here’s how the Blue Jackets skated (minus Foligno and Wisniewski): Hartnell-Johansen-Tropp, Calvert-Dubinsky-Atkinson, Anisimov-Wennberg-Skille, Gibbons-Letestu-Boll. Without Wisniewski, the defense pairs were mixed and matched throughout the practice.
PRAISE FOR THE DUBI LINE
Richards reunited the Calvert-Dubinsky-Atkinson line for the weekend games, and he saw a lot of what made that trio successful for the better part of last season and also into the playoffs. Atkinson’s red hot, having scored four goals in the last five games, and Dubinsky scored a big goal to get the Jackets going against the Islanders.
They skated well, used their speed to get to loose pucks and won battles in the offensive zone, which led to their fair share of scoring chances in both Friday and Saturday’s games.
“Dubinsky’s line was our best line over the weekend,” Richards said. “Even when you watch the details…there’s puck support and coming up the ice with some speed. That was our best group, so it’s not surprising as to why they’ve had some success. Cam, to me, probably the last two games his skating and having the puck on his stick, (those games) have been two of his better games in a while.”
BOB ON THE MEND
There was a very positive update on Sergei Bobrovsky from Richards today. He’s been skating for the past week or so with goaltending coach Ian Clark, recently getting into full gear and doing more work on the ice after the team holds its formal practice.
If all goes well, Bobrovsky could get back into game action by the end of this month, Richards said. Bobrovsky is in his fourth week of recovering from a groin injury (suffered Jan. 21 in Winnipeg) that had him projected to miss 4-6 weeks.