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Overheard: Morning Skate

by Staci Pawlak / Columbus Blue Jackets

The Blue Jackets were back at Nationwide Arena this morning to prepare for their game against the Edmonton Oilers at 7 p.m. tonight. The Blue Jackets last met the Oilers on Feb. 10 at home, a contest they lost 3-1 despite outshooting their opponents by a 40-14 margin. They hope to win tonight and earn their first back-to-back wins of the season.

Here are some of the major stories and quotes that came from the team’s post-skate media scrum this morning:

Jack’s Back:

Jack Johnson will return to the lineup tonight after missing four games due to an upper body injury he sustained against St. Louis on Feb. 23. Although proud of the team’s efforts over the past several games, he said it has been hard to sit and watch the games.

“To come down after you win or tough games and everyone has contributed and battled, and all you can do is cheer for them – it’s frustrating, but that’s sports,” Johnson said.

“They’ve played well. We’ve been in every game, and have had a chance to win every game.”

Brassard Returns:

Johnson isn’t the only one to return from injury tonight. Derick Brassard, who has not played since Feb. 26 against the Dallas Stars, is slated to return tonight as well.

“Feeling really good, it’s been a tough four or five days, but I’m ready to go 100 percent, and I’m ready to help my team,” Brassard said after the skate. “They’ve been playing really good, so I can’t wait for tonight.”

Hometown Advantage:

The Blue Jackets have one away game in the next ten games, and are eager to take advantage of the home stand and build on the momentum they’ve established over the past few games.

“This is a team we need to try and catch and climb over in the standings and then start chasing another team, so it’s important to win these games, and it’s important to win at home,” Johnson said.

“We’ve been in every game the past 10 or 15 games, we lost a lot of games by one goal against some really good teams,” Brassard said. “We’re in every game, we just need to find a way when the game’s tied or we’re down by a goal to come back and be strong.

“We made some good plays, and it would be nice to win a few games here.”

Young 'D' Excelling:

In the wake of injuries to veteran defensemen such as Johnson, James Wisniewski, and Nikita Nikitin, the responsibility to man the blue line has fallen on some young shoulders. Todd Richards said he has been impressed with the level of play that Tim Erixon and Cody Goloubef have brought to the team.

Tim Erixon, if you look at him in his first game – and same goes for Goloubef for his first game – they looked overwhelmed by the speed and just dealing with the size and experience that these NHL players have,” Richards said.

“I think they both have found, whether it’s through their experience here, have seemed more comfortable with the puck,” he said. “To me, I think we’re starting to see their games and where they can go with their NHL careers.”

He also said Dalton Prout has been impressive in his debut with the Blue Jackets.

“I thought he did a good job [in the Chicago game]. And then you look at our Colorado game, he was very good,” Richards said.

“We talked about it at the beginning of the year that the depth of this organization was its defense, and we’re seeing that with the young guys who are coming up playing.”

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