The Blue Jackets are ten days into training camp, presented by OhioHealth, and have three exhibition games under their belts. There are five more games to play in the next week starting with a rematch against Chicago tonight at the United Center.
The Jackets are wanting to respond after Chicago came to Columbus Tuesday and handed the home team a 5-2 loss. But, while winning is certainly better than losing, these preseason games are about some different things.
"You have to be really careful," head coach John Tortorella said. "Especially with amount of skating these guys have done, not to get too negative, and quite honestly, not to jump up and down when something really good is going on."
For the coaching and management teams, these games are primarily about putting the skaters in camp into game situations and specific roles to see how the players respond.
There have been some bigger takeaways, too.
With new guidelines for faceoffs and slashing, exhibition games have given a training ground for understanding those rules and trying to get on the right side of them.
Players taking faceoffs are feeling more comfortable game after game, and after having four slashes called against them Wednesday in St. Louis, the Jackets had only one such infraction Friday night.
The result of managing penalties means that players are getting to play more at even strength, which only aids in the Jackets' front office getting a really good look at how players are doing in game situations.
After playing right around just 35 minutes at five-on-five in their first two exhibition games, the Jackets bumped that amount up to 44:39 versus the Penguins.
The work for how the team will play as a group is happening behind the scenes for now. The Jackets have started to focus on more and more aspects of their team concept in practices, meetings and video sessions.
Tortorella expects that beginning around the middle of next week, when three preseason games remain and teams get closer to having their final rosters decided, is when we'll see play closer to what we can expect from the Jackets this year.
For now, it's about tweaking the little things, seeing what to focus on more in those training sessions, and finding the right players to put on Blue Jackets jerseys come opening night.
"We're obviously evaluating players and putting guys into situations where we can do that," Brad Shaw said after Friday's game. "At the same time, there's issues on the ice that we have to get better at and we've started the teaching process. There's no team that's feeling really comfortable with their team game at this point. But I think in the general sense, most of the aspects of our game team-wise are pointed in the right direction and the ones that aren't, we've looked at them and we'll keep working at them."
- John Tortorella will coach his first preseason game from the bench tonight.
- Alexander Wennberg is projected to play in his first exhibition game of the season. His arrival at camp was delayed due to Visa issues. He caught up on his skating and fitness testing Thursday.
- Lukas Sedlak, Calvin Thurkauf, and Vitaly Abramov will all suit up for their second game in two nights. It will also be their third game this preseason. The only other player to play three games thus far is Bobby MacIntyre.
- A Blue Jacket has scored two goals in each of their preseason games. Seth Jones did it against Chicago; Zac Dalpe notched two in St. Louis, and Pierre-Luc Dubois scored twice Friday against Pittsburgh.
Calvert - Wennberg - Bjorkstrand
Broadhurst - Thurkauf - Abramov
MacIntyre - Sedlak - Moutrey
Gallant - Maletta - Koules
Werenski - Benoit
Kukan - Johnson
Murray - Graves