With last night's unique split-squad contests in the rear-view mirror, the Blue Jackets are trending back toward the norm as training camp continues.
And as the Washington Capitals come to Nationwide Arena tonight, there is plenty to filter through before we drop the puck on the third preseason contest of 2011-12. The big news of the day is without a doubt R.J. Umberger’s shiny new five-year extension with the Blue Jackets, announced by general manager Scott Howson this morning on Twitter (@GMScottHowson).
For all parties involved, it was not a difficult process because everyone knew the desired and preferred end result.
“All of the moves that happened this summer made my decision that much easier (to re-sign),” Umberger told BlueJackets.com. “I really like the direction and the future of our team, the commitment from ownership group as well as the great job Scott (Howson) did. “That was the nail in the coffin as far as getting it done, I knew I wanted to be here.”
Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel knew immediately that he was going to rely on players like Umberger, veterans who can play in all situations and contribute consistently. Getting the contract done during training camp goes a long way toward eliminating distractions, Arniel said, as well as displaying confidence and commitment to winning in Columbus.
“He’s a leader, he’s one of our captains and as a coach I’m really excited to have a deal done,” Arniel told BlueJackets.com. “Without a doubt, when Rick (Nash) started with his commitment to stay here and then Carter with 11 years it all started to fall into place. We’ve got people here that are committed to helping this team and organization have success. I’m sure if (Umberger) went on the open market there would have been a lot of teams after him.”
Carter Draws In
Blue Jackets center Jeff Carter will make his preseason debut for the Blue Jackets tonight at Nationwide Arena, skating on a line with Nash and Umberger to open the game. Despite suffering an injury during the Owners’ Tournament, Carter is healed up and ready to go. Also making their preseason debuts tonight are the aforementioned Nash along with defenseman Fedor Tyutin and goaltender Steve Mason. Carter has skated the past two days and Arniel is primarily concerned with veteran players getting up to game speed during the exhibition contests.
“For Jeff, Rick and Tyutin going in tonight, it’s all about timing,” Arniel said. “They’ve done this for many years and they want to get themselves up to speed. With Jeff, we’re obviously going to be watching how he does on a line with Nash and Umberger tonight. “We will have three big bodies out there and we’ll see them on the power play, too.”
Bring on the Caps
Like the Blue Jackets, Washington played a preseason game last night (against the Nashville Predators). Their lineup will be juggled as a result, and will be missing star winger Alex Ovechkin. Even without their captain and top player, the Capitals are still a formidable club in the eyes of Arniel.
Derick Brassard and Alexandre Giroux are the two Blue Jackets players who will have played both last night at MTS Centre in Winnipeg, and tonight at Nationwide Arena. Arniel was impressed with the performance of both players, and wants to see them out there again tonight.
“(The Capitals) have some skill and some players that we know are very dangerous offensively, but we’re still trying to evaluate,” Arniel said. “It’s good for some of our guys that were here last night to play back-to-back, and for us to see if they can come back with a performance like they had (against Winnipeg).”
The Blue Jackets made their first round of cuts at training camp this afternoon, sending seven players back to their junior teams and releasing two from their try-outs. Read the press release for details.