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Training Camp notebook: Day 3

by Rob Mixer / Columbus Blue Jackets

The systems work and teaching continued on the second day of practice at Blue Jackets Training Camp (presented by our good friends at OhioHealth), and there was a business-like approach as the first preseason games await.

Power play, defensive zone coverage, you name it…the Blue Jackets had it covered on Saturday morning at the OhioHealth Ice Haus. Group B kicked off the day on the practice rink, and the first real line experimentation featured Brandon Dubinsky centering Scott Hartnell and Cam Atkinson.

It bears repeating: much of what we see can be taken with a grain of salt because it’s still very early in camp, but worth noting that this combination was featured early on.

In the second session, two defense pairs remained intact for the second consecutive day: Tyutin-Prout and Johnson-Savard, and they’ve seen a lot of work together in the two practices so far.

Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said it’s difficult to get a read on who’s stood out in the first two days, mainly because he’s been focused on making sure the drills and systems work is being executed to his liking.

And that’s a word many players have used so far: execution.

Dubinsky said yesterday that the veterans have been keying on that word, and making sure that every player understands how important it is to put their total focus into every single rep whether it’s the first day of training camp or a mid-season practice in February.

The rosters for tomorrow’s split-squad games have been released and you can find them HERE.

A couple of notes: Anton Forsberg will start the game in Carolina and is expected to play the duration, Richards said. Curtis McElhinney is slated to play approximately half the game (maybe more) at home against St. Louis.

“You’re always looking at players, trying to assess and judge and see where they’re at,” Richards said. “From a coaching standpoint, it’s systematic play and doing the right things that we’ve tried to coach so far.”

Other notes from today:

- James Wisniewski said he’s feeling great and comes into camp, like many players, in excellent shape. He was banged up at the end of last season with head and oblique injuries, he said, but those are recovered and he’s ready to go.

- Ryan Murray skated solo this morning after the first group wrapped up its session in the practice rink. It’s part of the schedule he and the Blue Jackets are adhering to, as Richards said yesterday they’re just trying to manage him.

- Brian Gibbons said he’s not had much trouble (yet) picking up the structure and systems, noting that many drills are similar to what were run in Pittsburgh.

- Here’s Richards on Gibbons: “Small, quick electric fast player. We saw last year in the playoffs we he can do with his speed. You’re looking for speed, and we’ve talked about being a faster team.”

- Boone Jenner was playing center today in practice and that’s where he will play tomorrow night against St. Louis, Richards said. Richards also said it’s not merely a product of Ryan Johansen’s absence, because he would be trying Jenner at center regardless.

- The Blue Jackets have run through a multitude of drills in the two days of practice, but Richards said he’s paying close attention to players in the 5-on-5 or “battle drills,” which tend to give him the best idea of who’s engaged.

- His take: “Going up and down the ice, the skill stuff…everyone likes to do those. You get to see where the courage is, where the battle and compete are, taking a hit to make a play or even giving a hit. And it’s battling against NHL players; if you’re going into a corner with Jack Johnson or David Savard or Dalton Prout, Tyuts, Wiz, whoever our defensemen are…they’re big strong guys. We’ll see how many battles you win.”

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