Down to 48 players on the training camp roster as of this morning, the Blue Jackets let the dust settle on last night’s 4-3 overtime win over the Washington Capitals and took the ice as two full groups at the OhioHealth Ice Haus.
The non-game day practices are the best opportunity for head coach Scott Arniel and his staff to get down to brass tacks with their playing systems and situational tactics. Details were heavily stressed during this morning’s practice sessions, namely breakout drills and defensive zone coverage. One training camp roster move was announced this morning: the Blue Jackets sent winger Petr Straka back to his junior club in Rimouski (QMJHL). - UPDATED ROSTER
Columbus plays two preseason contests this weekend, beginning tomorrow night at Minnesota – a game in which the Blue Jackets are expected to bring a hearty lineup to Xcel Energy Center. The roster includes Jeff Carter, Rick Nash, James Wisniewski, Vinny Prospal and Fedor Tyutin.
It’s the way things go in professional sports: an injury to one player, while unfortunate, is an opportunity for another. And that is how Curtis Sanford is handling things while Mark Dekanich rehabs a high-ankle sprain suffered earlier this week.
“The first game of the preseason (at MTS Centre in Winnipeg) was my first game in a while, so it was a matter of getting my feet under me,” Sanford told BlueJackets.com. “I think this is why I was brought to (the Blue Jackets), to have a little depth in case something like this occurs.
“It’s good when organizations put themselves in a position to have depth in goal, because when something happens, you don’t have to lean on a young guy per se.”
A veteran of 108 NHL games (37-37-11 overall record) with the Blues and Canucks, Sanford knows the role he is expected to play and is more than prepared to step in and provide support. He posted a 22-13-2 record with a .930 save percentage and 1.93 goals-against average in 40 games with the Hamilton Bulldogs (AHL) last year.
“I’ll have some experience (in the league), I’ve played some NHL games,” Sanford said. “I offer that to this team, and that is what I’ll be expected to do.”
Vinny Prospal is no stranger to playing with good NHL players. The 17-year veteran has lined up alongside some quality talent in his career, but he’s got game, too. Prospal has registered eight 50-plus point seasons, including a stellar 2005-06 campaign (25-55-80 in 81 GP).
He’s confident that experience and skill will be two big contributions he makes to the Blue Jackets this season. One thing he noticed was that most of the teams in the ultra-competitive Western Conference have a common theme.
“If you look at the teams in (the Western Conference), all of their young guys are coming into their own,” Prospal said. “There aren’t many one-line or two-line teams anymore; teams can spread out their scoring because everybody checks. If the team has two or three scoring lines, it makes it that much harder to shut them down.”
The decision to sign with the Blue Jackets wasn’t a difficult choice, he said, because of the direction he sees the team moving.
“I was happy to come here because this is a good, up-and-coming team,” Prospal told BlueJackets.com this morning. “This is a group here that I think can do some damage together.”