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Returns of Wennberg, Dubinsky highlight Monday practice

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

John Tortorella had originally planned to give the Blue Jackets a day off today, but after watching the game tape, he changed his mind.

Instead, the team gathered at Nationwide Arena for a meeting and an hour-long practice just after the noon hour.

There was simply too much for the team to work on, he said, coming off a disappointing home loss to San Jose on Sunday night – one that they couldn’t afford to have slip through their fingers with a two-goal third period lead.

“I just felt we needed to come in and work on a number of different things with mindset, and that’s what we did,” Tortorella said today. “I changed my mind. I changed my mind, and we just have too many things to do. I would have loved to give them the day off…but sometimes, you have to look at the whole big picture of where we are as a team, and I don’t think we could afford a day off today.”

As every Tortorella practice goes, this one was energetic, fast and intense – three characteristics that had, for the most part, embodied the Blue Jackets’ play at home over the last two weeks but left them at times on Friday.

There’s also the issue of face-offs, which were a trouble point last night for the Blue Jackets.

They lost 39 of the 69 face-offs in the game against San Jose, but it wasn’t the percentage (43%) that bothered Tortorella as much as the timing and ramifications of those lost face-offs, and the lack of help from the forwards to at least create scrums off the draw.

San Jose scored three goals as the result of face-off wins in the offensive zone, running “high tip” plays with shots from the point to make the reads tougher for shot blockers and the goaltender.

“It created offense last night, didn’t it? Three face-offs, three goals,” he said. “A lot of it is going for ties now and having other people help out, and I think that’s where we can get better. As a team, it’s trying to help out on those because a lot of them aren’t clean wins – it’s winning those battles off the side and winning face-offs as a team.”

Other stuff:

- Brandon Dubinsky and Alexander Wennberg both returned to practice today, obviously a good sign for a team that’s had its center depth heavily impacted by injuries. Wennberg seems the more likely to return Wednesday, but Tortorella said they’ll wait and see how practice goes tomorrow before making a decision.

- Wennberg centered a line with Hartnell and Foligno during today’s practice. He said he felt really good after the skate, adding that “it was no fun at all sitting and watching the games” but enjoyed watching the team win.

- Tortorella was asked if he was surprised there was no boarding penalty called in the third period of Sunday’s game. Rene Bourque appeared to be clearly boarded behind the Sharks’ net, but both officials – including one directly in front of the play – declined to assess a penalty.

“Yes, I was (surprised),” he said. “I’ll answer it that way.”

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