If you were in the OhioHealth Ice Haus today and weren’t sure of what Todd Richards was asking for, you probably weren't here.
Only five minutes into the first practice of Blue Jackets Training Camp, Richards brought the session to a halt and instructed his players to “pass like an NHL team” and to treat the practice like a game situation.
And while it may seem like training camp is a long, drawn-out adventure, the days fly by in between roster reductions, preseason games and evaluation. The regular season comes quickly and the Blue Jackets want to make sure they’re ready.
We’ve been over this “avoiding the slow start” thing a few times, and it will continue to be a theme.
2014-15 #CBJ TRAINING CAMP
Another theme was how to approach the practice. Richards implored the group to sharpen its focus and make hard, crisp passes on the breakout - all in effort to get them thinking about playing faster both individually and as a group.
“I would bet that 29 other teams are saying the same thing: we’ve got to play faster, harder,” Richards said after practice. “I was impressed with some guys today, and you can tell, too - some guys put in some time and sacrificed over the summer. I’m not going to say it was a noticeable difference, but there were some guys who were pretty good today.”
Among those who impressed Richards was defenseman Cody Goloubef, who was an AHL All-Star with Springfield and is in the mix (along a few players) to get one of the final spots on the blue line. After some spot duty in Columbus the last few years, this is a big opportunity in training camp.
While there wasn’t much work done in the form of line rushes (with 55 total players and two groups to start camp, we probably won’t see much of it outside of morning skates), both groups saw some experimentation with defense pairs.
Fedor Tyutin skated alongside Dalton Prout, and Jack Johnson paired up with David Savard in the early group. In the later group, James Wisniewski and Tim Erixon were one of the featured pairings. An update on another Jackets defenseman can be found below.
Some updates from the day:
- Scott Hartnell said Day 1 on-ice with the Blue Jackets wasn’t too different from what he was previously used to in Philadelphia, but admitted the nerves were still there. “(The system) is about hard work and focusing on what your position’s all about. It was nice to get the first day over with…I’ve been thinking about it for a couple months.”
- Alexander Wennberg said he’s already picking up the Blue Jackets’ systems, which were somewhat introduced to the team’s prospects during the Traverse City tournament. “I’m a pretty smart player,” he said with a smile. He seems to be up to speed so far, and it should only continue to get better.
- Richards was asked about Wennberg and said “he fits right in” and doesn't look out of place, but cautioned that there’s still a lot to learn for the youngster. Richards said that Wennberg was on a different level than the rest of the competition in Traverse City.
- Ryan Murray did not practice as scheduled with the afternoon group today. GM Jarmo Kekalainen said it’s nothing serious and just part of his rehab schedule from a knee injury: "This is part of his rehab process, and he's not going to skate everyday. So, today was just one those days where he's not going to skate.”
- In summary, they’re just playing it safe with Murray and easing him back into action. We should see him soon enough.
- Nathan Horton, as expected, did not join the Blue Jackets for practice today as he recovers from a back injury. Kekalainen said earlier this week that Horton’s working with the team’s athletic training staff to rebuild strength in his core, and that no surgery would be required.
- Liked Simon Hjalmarsson today and he could be one of those so-called “sleepers” to make an impact here sooner than later. His 57 points in the Swedish Hockey League last year are quite impressive and he shouldn't be pegged as only a “grinder” in the NHL; the Blue Jackets think he has offense to provide here and he’ll get a chance to show it in this camp.
- David Savard stood out in a good way in the first session. Played big, played physical and looks leaner than he did a year ago.
- Sergei Bobrovsky’s back and ready to go after an eventful summer that included trips to the Maldives, France and a five-week stay in Austria to train and prepare for the season. He’s a shiny new mask that’s awfully sharp (you can see it on the Blue Jackets’ official Twitter feed).