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At the Rink: Blue Jackets at Wild

by Dan Myers
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- One day after being named coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets, John Tortorella will make his debut Thursday when they open a four-game road trip against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center (8 p.m. ET; FS-O, FS-N, FS-WI).

Columbus had an optional skate with about half the players on the ice Thursday morning, and Tortorella held a meeting to discuss important points about his system and how he wants the Blue Jackets to play.

More importantly, he said he wants to see a shift in attitude for a group that has been lacking confidence. Columbus is the only team in the NHL without a point this season (0-7-0).

"I want to see us play with some arrogance. I don't want us testing the water, I want to see some sign that we feel good about ourselves," Tortorella said. "A big part of getting out of this is our play away from the puck. It's a big part of coaching, is teaching that. If we're going to get better and try to get on the right track, we need to be better away from the puck."

The new job has already presented Tortorella with unique challenges as he attempts to help lead the Blue Jackets out of their current funk.

"It's been a full gamut of everything; film, meetings, just trying to learn who the guys are. I see them and I don't know them or who they are. My training staff, I don't know who they are," Tortorella said. "So it's a little awkward. I think I need one of those books where I can see the picture and the name and get it all straightened out.

"It's been busy, but I think we've gotten the work done to prepare for this game."

Blue Jackets players view the coaching change as a chance to wipe the slate clean on a bad start to the season.

"He's come in and had a more direct approach for us of what he wants, and that will help us," forward Nick Foligno said. "I think we're a fragile group, there's no denying it. But I think when you have someone who comes in and lays it on the line and puts it out there, there's no gray areas of what he wants, then I think it allows you to just go out there and play and put the rest behind you.

"It's obviously been a tough start, but we [have to] look forward and we have a chance to do that today."

Tortorella said goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky will start. Bobrovsky is 0-5-0 with a 5.07 goals-against average and .835 save percentage.

Minnesota is expected to go with its same lineup from a 4-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday. The Wild will play four games in the next six days after opening the season with five games in 14 days.

Forward Nino Niederreiter left practice Tuesday as a precaution because of tightness but practiced Wednesday and skated Thursday. He should be fine for the game.

Here are the projected lineups:


Boone Jenner - Ryan Johansen - Nick Foligno

Scott Hartnell - Alexander Wennberg - Brandon Saad

Matt Calvert - Brandon Dubinsky - David Clarkson

William Karlsson - Gregory Campbell - Cam Atkinson

Jack Johnson - David Savard

Fedor Tyutin - Dalton Prout

Cody Goloubef - Ryan Murray

Sergei Bobrovsky

Curtis McElhinney

Injured: None

Scratched: Jared Boll, Rene Bourque, Kevin Connauton


Zach Parise - Mikael Granlund - Jason Pominville

Jason Zucker - Mikko Koivu - Nino Niederreiter

Thomas Vanek - Charlie Coyle - Justin Fontaine

Chris Porter - Erik Haula - Ryan Carter

Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin - Matt Dumba

Marco Scandella - Christian Folin

Devan Dubnyk

Darcy Kuemper

Injured: Tyler Graovac (groin)

Scratched: Niklas Backstrom, Nate Prosser

Status report: Connauton, who had a goal and two assists in two wins against the Wild last season, is expected to be scratched for a fourth consecutive game. … Graovac began skating this week but isn't expected back in the lineup until next week at the earliest. Graovac was injured in the season opener against the Colorado Avalanche on Oct. 8.

Who's hot: Johnson scored Columbus' last goal, Oct. 17 against the Chicago Blackhawks, and has 14 points in 24 games against the Wild. … Parise's five goals this season are tied with six others for second-most in the NHL, one off the League lead.

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