Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Camp Day 3, Special Teams

Nick Foligno - Number 71
I got a chance to attend the public practice in the Ice Haus today, to watch the Blue Jackets continue their abbreviated training camp.  Earlier in the morning, the CBJ had scrimmaged over on the big ice in Nationwide Arena, however, that part of practice was not open to the public.  According to Shawn Mitchell over on Puck Rakers no goals were scored, which is okay as they were emphasizing their defense.  If you go over to the Blue Jackets web site Bob McElligott has done a great job of getting a lot of good video content up on the site.  I'll come back to the points about coaching that Bob touches on in a later post.

The public camp session was mostly spent on special teams, the power play and the penalty kill.  I felt the players weren't really flying, but they already had a scrimmage behind them.  One thing I really like about Todd Richards is that he is willing to stop a drill and make sure it gets done right.  He's very vocal and involved in the practices, and I think that is a good thing.  Ian Clark got to borrow Vinny Prospal, Derick Brassard and Jared Boll to do some work with the goal tenders.  At that stage of the practice, the rest of the players were working on the penalty kill.

The two power play units were the Brassard line with Cam Atkinson and RJ Umberger as forwards and with Johnson and Wisniewski as the defensive pair.  The second unit had Vinny Prospal, Ryan Johansen, and Nick Foligno with Tyutin and Nikitin as the defensive pair, though this unit got a lot of looks, and possessed the puck really well.  While I wasn't real impressed with Johansen on the first day of camp, he showed some very good stuff in the power play work.  He did some nifty puck possession skating right up the slot (and still got a shot away) and scored on a beauty of a one-timer.  The other guy I was really impressed with was Nick Foligno.  Dude has real soft hands, and seems everywhere on the ice.  I have a feeling that we are going to like watching him play.  At a down time at the last stages of the practice, Foligno was balancing a puck on his stick and trying to flip it to John Moore for him to catch on his stick.  It was fun to watch them.

One thing that I observed, is that the new guys seem to have melded right into the team fabric.  It was easy to see instances where they showed that they liked playing together, and though they were working hard, they were also enjoying themselves.  There wasn't a lot of 'stiffness' to the practice, they seemed relaxed and happy to be there.  The worked hard, and were very attentive to the coaches, but there was just a good spirit to the whole thing.  That will serve them well in the inevitable times of duress in this year.

I really can't wait for Saturday, and I am really looking forward to the home opener.  It will be highly entertaining to watch these guys play.  All they really have to do at the start of the season is play .500 hockey to give themselves a chance to gel.  Then we'll see.


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