Three straight days of scrimmaging and hard skating wrapped up today at Nationwide Arena. Amidst all the drills, the scrimmages have brought a time to be creative and draw attention. They also bring a time to see players finding chemistry with one another, just as it is brewing between Cam Atkinson and Artemi Panarin.
Before this year's Blue Jackets' Training Camp got underway, Atkinson shared he was slated to play on the right side of a line with newly acquired Panarin and veteran center Alexander Wennberg.
Throughout camp, Atkinson and Panarin have been in the same group together and played three hours of scrimmage time. In today's play, each player scored a goal. Panarin set up Atkinson's tally, and the two created numerous chances through the 50 minutes of running clock play time.
"I just have to have my stick on the ice because (Panarin) can score and he can pass. He definitely loves to pass," Atkinson said. "In practice, we went on two-on-ones and we scored every time. It was the same play where he just finds me and I have a wide-open net. All I have to do is put it in."
The two players started working together about a week before camp officially began, and have been able to get a start on learning each other's playing styles and tendencies on the ice.
Video: Hannikainen talks about CBJ training camp
Panarin is working on growing his command of the English language, but he and Atkinson already have found ways to communicate, and of course, there's the shared language of hockey between the two.
"I know what he's trying to say and he knows what I'm trying to say," Atkinson said. "On the ice, I hear him call for it, he hears me call for it. Whatever he says, I just hear him. I don't know if it's Russian or English but it's easy to communicate with him."
Panarin is showing to be as advertised thus far. He's demonstrating the dynamic play the Jackets wanted to add to the roster, and his new head coach loves his ability to continuously get open on the ice.
"He gets lost (in traffic) and then he gets open," John Tortorella said. "He has a tremendous skill set and he skates on top of the ice. He's come into this league and had had two really good years, and he knows how to play the game."
- The players turned the three days of scrimmages into a mini-tournament of sorts. Group 3 won overall and celebrated accordingly on main ice after their 4-3 win over group 4. Nick Foligno joked that his team, which ended each of their three matches in a tie, went "undefeated."
- Markus Hannikainen, who signed a two-year extension with the Jackets in March, has shown up to camp ready to fight for a spot on the NHL roster. He revealed he's gained eight pounds from his off-season work. Looks to be all muscle.
- The Jackets play the first of five pre-season games in six days tomorrow. The puck drops against the Chicago Blackhawks at 7 p.m. at Nationwide Arena. Rosters for Tuesday's game are expected later tonight.