COLUMBUS, Ohio – There wasn’t much wading into training camp for Team USA this afternoon...but did you expect anything different?
Shortly after 1 p.m., the first whistle blew and John Tortorella assembled his team at center ice, ready to embark on a five-day mission to get ready for the first World Cup of Hockey in 12 years.
And for those players not yet familiar with a “Torts practice,” well, they were introduced quickly.
Up and down the ice, one group after the next, through to the next whistle. The first hits were landed in the third drill 18 minutes into practice (Patrick Kane absorbed the first one from Erik Johnson) and it was a crisp, fast-moving session.
If you’re going to get ready for a two-week tournament against the world’s best, you may as well jump in with both feet. Team USA plays its first of three pre-tournament games on Friday night at Nationwide Arena, beginning a two-game set against Canada (the second is Saturday night at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, Ont.), so the clock is ticking to get up to speed.
What do you see in your team, Torts?
“I see a bunch of talent,” Tortorella said after practice. “As a coach, it’s fun to see some of the things they can do as a group. It’s a lot of talent, a lot of character. It’s fun to start instead of talking about it and just get started.”
If you follow the Blue Jackets, there was plenty of familiar terminology used in the coach’s post-practice media session. Here’s what Tortorella had to say about the identity he and the coaching staff want to forge with this U.S. team:
“We’re going to play as quickly and straight ahead as possible. We have the skill to make plays. We want to go north-south and have some grind in our game when we need to. We can play different ways within the game and game-to-game…we’re going straight ahead. We’re not looking to counter-punch. We have a way that we want to play.”
And today’s line combinations, which Tortorella said will likely remain intact for Friday’s exhibition game against Canada:
Max Pacioretty – Joe Pavelski – Patrick Kane
Blake Wheeler – Derek Stepan – Zach Parise
Justin Abdelkader – Ryan Kesler – TJ Oshie
Brandon Dubinsky – David Backes – Kyle Palmieri/James van Riemsdyk
Ryan McDonagh – John Carlson
Ryan Suter – Dustin Byfuglien
Jack Johnson – Matt Niskanen/Erik Johnson
Goalies: Ben Bishop, Jonathan Quick, Cory Schneider
Team USA is back on the ice for practice at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Nationwide Arena. For an inside look at camp, follow the Blue Jackets on Twitter (@BlueJacketsNHL) and Snapchat (user: bluejacketsnhl).