Time flies…yet not nearly quickly enough.
It's hard to believe that we are already halfway through training camp, with the Blue Jackets roster already looking like it has taken shape, and yet the mood among the 5th Line is like that of hockey sweater-wearing children counting down the days until Christmas.
The roster is now officially less than half the size of what it was when it began a week and half ago. The Lake Erie Monsters are beginning to take shape, and the Jackets will determine the last few pieces of their NHL roster over three games this week, wrapping up preseason play on Saturday at home against Nashville.
Although the point of preseason is more about assessing players and determining readiness for the NHL, and the games obviously do not count, the first five games of the preseason have certainly given fans a lot to consider as we look forward to the regular season.
The Blue Jackets managed to play four games in as many days last week, with three of them coming at home, end the fourth being the other split squad game last Tuesday in St. Louis. The preseason opener against Pittsburgh saw a lot of great efforts and provided good looks at the new Scott Hartnell-Alexander Wennberg-Cam Atkinson line as well as a trio of Sonny Milano, Oliver Bjorkstrand and William Karlsson that could take the ice in Cleveland for the Monsters.
Columbus split up for a pair of games against St. Louis the very next day. Although the Jackets faltered 5-2 on the road, the home fans' first look at Ryan Johansen this preseason did not disappoint. Milano got to see some time with Johansen and Nick Foligno, as well, and made the most of it as he took a pass from the captain for an easy power play goal to put the Jackets up 2-1.
As a bonus, Jackets fans even got to see Johansen carry the Jackets to an overtime "win," in the second 3-on-3 demo in as many nights.
The busy week of home preseason games wrapped up Thursday against Minnesota. Bjorkstrand saw a lot of ice time, leading all forwards with 18:48, including significant power play time with Dubinsky and Rene Bourque.
The Jackets took advantage of their one television appearance of the preseason to show off the new look of its forward corps, including the preseason debut of Brandon Saad, who took a puck to the mouth earlier in the week.
The rematch against the Pittsburgh Penguins provided plenty of fireworks early, as the Jackets rattled off four goals late in the first and early in the second, before Sidney Crosby could get the Penguins on the board, and Phil Kessel cut the lead to 4-2 late in the second.
The game saw Columbus go 2-for-7 on the power play and dominate the shot count 14-1 in the first period, before the Penguins ultimately outshot the Jackets 35-29. Johansen had a three-point night with two goals and an assist, and Sergei Bobrovsky was solid in his second preseason appearance.