The Blue Jackets are set to take on the Minnesota Wild Tuesday night at Nationwide Arena. Game time is set for 7 p.m. ET. It will be the first of two preseason meetings between the clubs, as Columbus travels to Minnesota on Thursday to play at Xcel Energy Center at 7 p.m. ET.
To view the playing rosters for both teams for Tuesday’s game, click here.
Players Battling for Rosters Spots
In every NHL training camp, players are battling for roster spots. Some positions, and even some lines, may be set, but for some that may not be the case.
The Blue Jackets fourth line appears to be a wide open race. Who will fill those lines when the team drops the puck on the 2010-11 season in Sweden against the San Jose Sharks on Oct. 8 will be determined in the next week and a half.
“Camp is going well,” forward Ben Guite said. “We still have a lot of bodies and a lot of guys still competing for spots.”
Members of the club’s front office and coaching staff like when players are battling for spots. The competition makes the players work even harder and sometimes it gets more out of the player then expected.
“You look at all the guys who are fighting for spots and I don’t think two of them are exactly the same,” said Guite, who is one of a decent sized group battling for a roster spot. “Everybody has their strengths and their weaknesses. You want to play well and you want to do your thing.”
Obviously, the best thing a player can do is go out and play his game and hope that lands him a spot on the NHL club. But at the same time, it’s just as easy to count and see who you are going up against.
“I try to not think about it too much, but it’s impossible not to,” center Trevor Frischmon said. “It’s just the way things are. There is always going to be competition. It’s frustrating at times, but I have to go out and play my best and just try to make a good impression on the coaches. And if they don’t have a spot for me right now, at least make a good impression so they’re not afraid to call me back up (from the AHL) when they need me.”
Added Guite, “You try to out-compete everybody, but I think everybody has been playing good. It’s all going to depend on what they need and who is playing the best at that time. But you have to go out there and play your game. I’d be lying if I wasn’t thinking about it and I try not to look too much into it, but there’s only so much you can control. So you go out there and do what you can control and leave the rest in the coaches’ hands.”
A new coaching staff has given all players a fresh start and Guite is hoping that helps as the roster is slowly trimmed down to the NHL mandated 23 active players.
“With a new coaching staff and new systems and learning to play the way the coaches want us to play,” Guite said. “I think they want to keep as many guys around just to get a good feel if guys start up here then they know what they’re expected to do and if they start in the minors and get called back up, they’ll be familiar with everything.”
After the first week-plus of Camp and a few games under his belt, Frischmon is feeling good and likes the way he has been playing.
“I think it has been going well,” Frischmon said. “I’ve gotten to play a couple of games. It’s always nice to get that opportunity and I think the games have gone pretty well. You always think that you could have done better, but I think I have done all right.”
Great Day to Teach
Monday’s practice was originally scheduled to have the players take a skate test, one that head coach Scott Arniel has used to test players conditioning levels on the ice. That plan was scrapped in favor of a systems “walkthrough.” Similar to what football teams due in preparation for games, Arniel “walked through” his systems and style of play. Arniel and the coaching staff took regular breaks to teach the players the ins and outs of the system.
“We have about eight or nine guys with real tight groins and brand new ice in Atlanta, brand new ice in Pittsburgh, brand new ice in our building, that can sometimes be hard on the groins and hip flexors,” Arniel said about postponing the skate test. “Today, we felt, was a perfect opportunity to do a football mentality walkthrough and just get everybody on the same page when it comes to our systems.”
Players also found the day to be beneficial. As the days progress, they feel more and more comfortable in Arniel’s system.
“I think it’s important,” defenseman Mike Commodore said of Monday’s walkthrough. “We really haven’t had a lot of practice times with all the games. Other than us taking too many penalties, I think it’s just guys not knowing where to go, which is totally natural and I am sure it’s happening in lots of camps, so it was good to take some time and get things right.”
“I feel that day by day you get better,” Frischmon said. “I don’t think the system is that much different, but it’s definitely more up tempo than the way they used to play here. It’s more go-go-go. I like it. For my game, skating and speed are probably my best assets, and I like playing that way. So far things seem to be going pretty well.”
A walkthrough in hockey is not typical, but players found it to be very beneficial when an entire team is learning a brand new system.
“It was good, definitely a little something different,” Frischmon said. “I think everyone was run down and a little tired from the first week of camp, so it was nice to walk through the systems and just go through everything slowly so it’s easier to see what’s going on.”
Tuesday Practice Groups and Schedule
Playing Group (10-11 a.m., Nationwide Arena) – Blunden, Clark, Commodore, Delisle, Filatov, Garon, Goloubef, Guite, Holden, Huselius, Klesla, Kolarik, Kubalik, LeNeveu, Moore, Moreau, Murray, Sestito, Sigalet, Stralman, Vermette, Wilson
Non-Playing Group (11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., Nationwide Arena) – Brassard, Calvert, Clitsome, Dorsett, Frischmon, Gabriel, Guenin, Hejda, Johansen, Machesney, MacKenzie, Mason, Mayorov, Methot, Nash, Pahlsson, Regner, Ruth, Savard, Tyutin, Umberger, Voracek