For the second time in three years, NHL goaltenders are dealing with a change and/or reduction in the size of their gear - in particular, the leg pads.
It has been a topic of conversation around the sport since the new rules for 2013-14 were implemented over the summer. Goalies are seeing the average maximum height of their leg pads decrease by an average of two inches, a number that may vary depending on the player's height. Some goalies are losing nearly three inches and others are losing an inch (give or take), but the song and dance is nothing new for them.
Blue Jackets goaltender Mike McKenna stands at 6-foot-3, making him the tallest goalie in the organization and the player who has seen the most significant change in his equipment. He only recently received his new equipment back from the NHL, and used it for the first time during the team's morning skate on Tuesday prior to facing Buffalo at Nationwide Arena.
They know the drill: it's "adapt or die," as McKenna likes to say. The rules are out of his control but it's his job to adjust and make the most of what he's allotted.
We're down to one group of players at Blue Jackets Training Camp after this week's cuts, and that group took the ice for a late-morning skate today at the OhioHeath Ice Haus.
The emphasis? Building off the first week of camp, which included a lot of fundamentals and a refresher course to the systematics of what the Blue Jackets want to do on the ice. As has been mentioned multiple times in this space, Todd Richards keeps hammering home the need to play with pace and do things fast.
They played a fast game (at least in the final two periods) against the Carolina Hurricanes earlier this week, and Richards liked a lot of what he saw in the third period, when the Blue Jackets overwhelmed the Hurricanes and struck for three straight goals.
It's a start, Richards said, but there's still a ways to go before they're ready for opening night - which is now exactly two weeks (!) away.
Without further ado, let's get into today's notebook...
We're nine days into Blue Jackets Training Camp presented by OhioHealth, which means we've covered a lot of ground, but there are still several unknowns as we had closer to opening night.
In kind-of-important news, the Blue Jackets are 3-1-0 through four of eight preseason games. Those games have featured some very good things, but also some things that Todd Richards and his coaching staff will focus intently on over the next two weeks. The "good news" category got a boost last night in Raleigh, when Columbus' top players really shined in a 5-4 win over the Hurricanes.
Marian Gaborik scored twice. Brandon Dubinsky was a monster, picking up three assists, a game-high 10 shots on goal and logging nearly 23 minutes of ice time. Boone Jenner was a workhorse and fit in nicely alongside Gaborik and Dubinsky, and had a multi-point effort (goal and assist) himself.
The power play had its moments, the penalty kill was solid at times and Mike McKenna played well between the pipes to pick up the win. Today is a deserved off-day from camp activities, and the Blue Jackets will get back at it tomorrow morning.
Welcome to this week's edition of Trivia Tuesday!
But first, let's answer last week's question and give away a team-signed stick.
We asked what Blue Jackets player will play against his two former teams in the first two games of the 2013-14 regular season. The answer? None other than Blue Jackets forward Blake Comeau (#14). He previously played for the Calgary Flames, who will be at Nationwide Arena for Opening Night on Oct. 4 and then face off against the team that drafted him, the New York Islanders, the following night.
Congratulations to Lucas Henger, who answered correctly!
With that, it's time to reveal this week's question.
Now that we are getting into the swing of things with exhibition games and preseason play, head Coach Todd Richards and his staff are trying different roster line-ups to see what combinations will be best for the regular season and for the final roster. Tonight, the Blue Jackets will send split squads to play in two games: one at home vs. the Buffalo Sabres at 7 p.m. and a travel team to play the Minnesota Wild at 7 p.m.
Keeping with the theme of split squad games, we ask the following...
QUESTION: The Blue Jackets last participated in a split-squad game in September 2011 against the Winnipeg Jets, which marked Winnipeg's unofficial return to the NHL. Who scored the lone CBJ goal in the game at Winnipeg?
Same rules as always: fill out the form below with the correct answer, click submit and you are automatically entered to win a replica hockey stick signed by the entire 2012-13 Blue Jackets team. Good luck!
Sometimes, quickly turning the page after an exhibition game can be a useful thing.
The Blue Jackets did that today, less than 12 hours after a thrilling (and surprisingly intense) preseason affair with the Pittsburgh Penguins - their newly-minted, snarly division rival from three hours east - and got right back to work in practice. After all, Training Camp presented by OhioHealth is six days old and there's still plenty to work on before they play another game.
As for that next game, it's tomorrow night (and there are actually two games). The Blue Jackets are splitting the squad in half on Tuesday, playing a road game vs. the Minnesota Wild and a home game against the Buffalo Sabres. Full rosters for both games can be found by visiting our Training Camp Central page.
Both practices were held at Nationwide Arena this morning and each ran about an hour, with Todd Richards going over more systematic items like neutral zone play, defensive zone assignments and much more.
Here are some notes and observations from both sessions...