POSTED ON Thursday, 01.17.2013 / 3:00 PM
By Staci Pawlak - BlueJackets.com / CBJ Today

The Blue Jackets took a break from the ice for the fifth day of Training Camp presented by OhioHealth, a move that head coach Todd Richards said was necessary in order to manage the physical and emotional toll of the past week.

“They were long days, long hard days, and I think the emotion, the energy of it too, the excitement of the first day – I think it’s typical of a normal training camp,” Richards said after the team’s team meetings and off-ice workout this morning.

One thing had been clear after yesterday’s 20-minute scrimmage: the intensity of the first couple of days of camp had evaporated. According to Richards, this was typical of training camps not just in Columbus but around the NHL.

“It’s been talked among coaches before that you normally have a letdown after 3-4 days of camp,” Richards said.

This year, the exhaustion was heightened by the shortened camp and acceleration towards the start of the season.  For Richards, deciding to give the players a break from on-ice drills was necessary for the coaching staff to make in order to prepare for the emotional escalation heading into the season opener against the Nashville Predators on Saturday.

“It’s going to be revved up, emotions are going to be high," Richards said. "It’s going to be cranked up, the arena’s going to be loud. Our players are going to be excited, their players are going to be excited, and we have to have our emotions under control.”

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POSTED ON Thursday, 01.17.2013 / 12:15 PM
By Rob Mixer - BlueJackets.com / CBJ Today

The Blue Jackets have finalized their 23-man roster for the season opener in Nashville.

Boone Jenner and Tim Erixon were the two cuts made by the club today, head coach Todd Richards announced late this morning. The team did not hold a formal on-ice practice today at Training Camp presented by OhioHealth, instead conducting team meetings and off-ice workouts to get the energy level back up for tomorrow's skate.

In Jenner's case, he will return to the OHL's Oshawa Generals and be their No. 1 center and go-to player in virtually all situations. Upon his recall to Blue Jackets camp, Jenner was among the OHL's leading goal scorers and was fresh off representing Canada at the World Junior tournament for the second consecutive year.

Erixon, acquired from the New York Rangers in the Rick Nash trade this summer, heads back to Springfield (AHL) to play big minutes on the blue line for head coach Brad Larsen. Richards said it wouldn't surprise anyone if Erixon was recalled to the Blue Jackets in the near future, but for the time being, he wants Erixon logging important minutes for a Falcons team that has played well all season long. 

The full story and a projected look at the opening night lineup are inside this blog post.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 01.16.2013 / 8:30 PM
By Rob Mixer - BlueJackets.com / CBJ Today

Today's practice definitely felt like a regular hockey season practice: we had a skate that lasted about an hour at Nationwide Arena, a full intrasquad scrimmage, a "talking to" from the head coach at center ice, and the lower body injury is back.

Unfortunately for Cam Atkinson, he's nursing a "minor lower body" issue that kept him out of today's practice at Training Camp presented by OhioHealth, but Todd Richards said afterward that he doesn't think it's going to be a lingering problem.

Atkinson dismissed its severity on the radio with 97.1's Beau Bishop this afternoon, so I think it's possible we could see No. 13 back on the ice fairly soon. His line mates missed him today; RJ Umberger and Derick Brassard both talked about how their line has come together and built off the momentum they had at the end of last year, and are looking forward to opening the season as a unit.

Richards was also asked if he thought Atkinson's status for the season opener in Nashville was in doubt, he didn't seem to think that was a threat.

"Right now, I'm not concerned," he said.

While Richards left the door open as far as practice for Thursday, he did say the team would certainly be skating on Friday morning before departing for Nashville. After plateauing a bit in terms of energy today, he wants to make sure the Blue Jackets are trending upward when they start final preparations for Saturday.

You can find full analysis for Day 4 inside this blog post.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 01.16.2013 / 5:30 PM
By Rob Mixer - BlueJackets.com / CBJ Today

The Blue Jackets took the ice at Nationwide Arena this morning with 24 skaters, one short of their complete training camp roster. Cam Atkinson was the lone absentee, but both he and Todd Richards said there's not much cause for concern.

Richards met with the media following today's practice, which lasted just under an hour, and said Atkinson was out with a "minor lower body issue." Other than that, no specifics of the injury were provided.

In the absence of Atkinson, the Blue Jackets mixed and matched line combinations for their second straight day of intrasquad scrimmaging, starting the morning with Nick Foligno on the right side of Derick Brassard and R.J. Umberger. The line of Dubinsky-Anisimov-Dorsett remained intact and looked good in both scrimmaging and drills for the third straight day. 

Richards also said that, at this time, he doesn't have any concern that Atkinson could miss opening night on Saturday in Nashville, but he doesn't want to make any predictions either way.

"He'll come in tomorrow, we'll re-assess, and see where he's at," Richards said. "I'm sure there's other teams dealing with similar issues whether it's minor or major. If you're out an extended period of time, you're going to miss a good amount of games."

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 01.16.2013 / 2:00 PM
By Rob Mixer - BlueJackets.com / CBJ Today

A few minutes into today's intrasquad scrimmage at Nationwide Arena, Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards blew his whistle and ground everything to a halt.

Though he kind of figured this would happen eventually, he wanted to get out in front of it before it became a problem: he could tell fatigue was starting to set in, and the intensity of the scrimmage was suffering. After a brief, one-way conversation with the players, they got back at it and finished with a strong fourth practice at Training Camp presented by OhioHealth.

The hitting picked up -- and Boone Jenner led the way finishing checks all over the ice -- and the pace followed suit. With only three days separating the Blue Jackets from an opening night date against the Nashville Predators, Richards was far more pleased with the second half of practice than he was with the start.

Part of the issue was the limited number of players skating; every line is double-shifting and playing twice as much as it would in a normal game situation, so the legs take a little bit to get acclimated.

According to R.J. Umberger, who has been skating on the team's top line during training camp, the onus is on the players to put a bit of a "crash" day in the rearview mirror and focus on three key days ahead.

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 01.16.2013 / 10:15 AM
By Rob Mixer - BlueJackets.com / CBJ Today

10:15 A.M.: Good morning and welcome to Day 4 of Blue Jackets Training Camp presented by OhioHealth. The team is set to take the ice in just a few minutes at Nationwide Arena, and the practice is free and open to the public. If you're coming down to the arena, make sure to enter at the McConnell Street doors.

Be sure to check out our official Twitter feed with all the content from yesterday's practice, and stay tuned to both the CBJ Today blog and Jackets TV for interviews and coverage after practice.

All you have to do is click "full story" to get everything you need!

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 01.15.2013 / 8:00 PM
By Rob Mixer - BlueJackets.com / CBJ Today


This is the unofficial halfway point of Blue Jackets Training Camp presented by OhioHealth, and just as we predicted, it would be a fast and furious week leading up to the season opener in Nashville.

No fewer than three times in the past three days have I stopped to think "what day is it?" and reminded myself that lunch at 4 p.m. is probably better than no lunch at all -- but that's the beautiful thing about hockey season. Go, go, go and enjoy the ride. You can sense it as things are starting to ramp up around here and the excitement is becoming more palpable with each passing day.

On a brisk Tuesday morning at Nationwide Arena, the Blue Jackets assembled for their third straight day of practice and this day began with a few drills to get the legs going. After the warm-up, it was time for an intrasquad scrimmage and our first true "competitive" look at the players since camp opened.

As part of my daily emptying of the notebook from practice, I asked Blue Jackets fans on Twitter for their input: who do you want to know more about? So this is my attempt to answer as many of those questions as I can (and it's going to end up in a long post, but that's cool, right?)

Here we go! (your questions answered inside the blog post

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 01.15.2013 / 5:30 PM
By Rob Mixer - BlueJackets.com / CBJ Today


When the Blue Jackets acquired Sergei Bobrovsky this summer, they hoped for an all-out battle between he and Steve Mason for the No. 1 goaltending spot in training camp. They now have that competition.

Todd Richards said he figured Bobrovsky -- who won 16 of 24 games in a starting role in Russia's KHL during the lockout, including one of the league's best goals-against averages -- would come into camp as the sharper of the two netminders, and after a few days of practice, Mason would catch up.

To this point, the goaltending situation has transpired pretty much how he'd anticipated, but Richards knows there is a long road ahead before anything is settled.

In the first three days of Blue Jackets Training Camp presented by OhioHealth, the pace has been high and there's been virtually no slowing down for a team that wants to make sure it's ready for its season opener in four days.

Usually that means a lot of pucks coming the goalie's way, and both Mason and Bobrovsky have shown well in the first set of practices.

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 01.15.2013 / 4:00 PM
By Rob Mixer - BlueJackets.com / CBJ Today

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 01.15.2013 / 2:30 PM
By Rob Mixer - BlueJackets.com / CBJ Today


The big storyline coming out of today's practice was the intrasquad scrimmage, but before and after, Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards got some valuable special teams work in with his players.

As several players pointed out, special teams practice can never be repeated enough in the NHL where power plays and penalty kills are so often the difference between two points and coming away empty-handed. The best teams in hockey have the best special teams, and the Blue Jackets are trying to squeeze as much work in as they can before Saturday's season opener in Nashville.

With a lot of new faces in the room, the systems and detail work is crucial because some coaches speak in different tongues with regard to power play and penalty killing philosophies, Richards said.

"The power play, for the new guys coming in, is really going to be completely new," Richards said. "Nick Foligno was in Ottawa and their coach talks the same way we talk, so it’ll be a little easier adjustment. I think based on what systems we’re teaching, for some guys it’s a bit easier and for others it’s completely different and takes some time.

"This is going to be an ongoing thing. You’re always looking to improve your team and the areas you could be better at. The players are working hard at it and I think we’ve gotten better, but we still have a ways to go."

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