The Blue Jackets are set to take on the Minnesota Wild tonight at Nationwide Arena. Game time is set for 7 p.m. ET. It is 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 tonight’s game, click here.
Holden Enjoying Camp This Time Around
The 2009 Training Camp was not kind to defenseman Nick Holden. Prior to camp starting, Holden, who was expecting to battle for the Blue Jackets seventh defenseman spot, came down with mononucleosis. Not only did it wipe him out of camp, but also drained his body physically.
“It took me until January until I felt that I was playing my game and had the energy to play like that,” he said. “I kind of rushed back because I wanted to start playing. I saw guys playing and competing and I just wanted to get back. I think it took me a little bit longer compared to if I would have rested a little bit more and took my time coming back.
“That’s last year. We can’t worry about that now. All I can do is focus on what I can do this camp.”
This time around, things have been a lot better. Holden had a strong summer and admitted that this year was the best he has felt both in strength and conditioning.
“I fell good,” Holden said. “Hopefully I can keep getting a chance to show what I can do and what I can bring to this team.”
Holden is battling for a roster spot again, only this time given a chance to actually show his skills on the ice in front of the Columbus coaching staff and management. After last year’s camp, all he is looking to do this year is play as best as he can.
“It obviously exciting to actually be competing for a spot this year,” Holden said. “Last year was a little bit disappointing, but it was out of my control. So all I can control is what I did this summer and this fall as I compete in camp.”
He made his 2010 preseason debut in the Blue Jackets first preseason game last Tuesday at Atlanta. Holden finished the night with two blocked shots, one shot on goal and had a plus/minus rating of +2 in 22:26 of ice time.
“Personally, I felt like I played well,” he said. “It was the first real game of hockey we’ve all played in a while, so timing was a little off, but for the most part, I felt that I kept it simple.
“I made good plays and tried, for the most part, to be really good defensively. I was lucky to be +2 and on for two of our (goals). I am just going to try to keep doing that in our games coming up and stick around for a while.”
Holden is in the lineup for tonight’s game against the Wild.
Youth Has Been Impressive So Far
Almost two weeks into camp, Blue Jackets head coach Scott Arniel has been pleased with the way camp has gone. Asked today to discuss the youth of the team and their progress, he had this to say, “I have been very impressed with some of the kids that have come in played games and seen how they’ve participated in practice.”
Since the start of camp, Arniel has preached that the players will decide who makes the team and who does not. He said everyone will be given the same opportunity.
“I said when we came in that it was not only evaluating the team that was here, but also the talent that we have that was in Syracuse (AHL) last year or guys that have been drafted,” Arniel said. “We’ve given guys opportunities to really show us what they have. I think it’s very important part of development that these guys do get some (preseason) games.”
For some of the younger players, making the jump from either college or junior hockey can be tough. For others the transition can be smooth. Arniel has seen both through the first 11 days of camp.
“To play at this level, it’s a big step,” Arniel said. “Some have done very well, and for some there has been a little bit of a learning curve. That’s what training camps are for.”
Regardless, all the players want to do is learn as much as they can to become better players and make the transition to professional hockey that much easier.
“Young guys are all eyes and ears,” Arniel said. “They are sponges and are just trying to learn.”
Wednesday’s Practice Schedule
Following tonight’s game, the club is expecting to make another round of roster moves to trim the training camp roster down to approximately 30 players. That will result in the team practicing in one group. The remaining players will hit the ice at 11 a.m. on Wednesday.
“We’re going to make some moves tomorrow (Wednesday) morning,” Arniel said. “There’s lots of people who have really stepped up here and been very good. I am sure you are going to see tomorrow that there are going to be some people around here who are going to get another opportunity to stay an extra day or two and maybe get an extra game."