Atkinson feels ready after full practice
After taking Wednesday's practice off and doing some light skating by himself on Thursday morning at Nationwide Arena, the right winger's "minor lower body issue" appears to be under control and isn't holding him back from playing tomorrow night.
He skated the full hour-plus practice with his teammates today and showed no signs of holding back.
"As of right now, no (restrictions)," Atkinson told BlueJackets.com after practice. "I feel good and a lot better than I did the last couple of days. Today was just about testing it out and seeing how it feels, and it got better every day."
Todd Richards and the Blue Jackets managed to get through Training Camp presented by OhioHealth with no major injuries despite packing a lot of work into the short time frame, and it looks like they will be carrying the full complement on Blue Jackets Air this afternoon.
Richards said one of the concerns entering this year's abbreviated camp was trying to find a balance between intensity in drills and being cognizant of things that could expose players to injury, and he's thankful that the team will be traveling to the Music City in good health.
The 23-year-old Atkinson was among the scoring leaders in the American Hockey League upon his official recall to camp last week, and is slotted on the right side of RJ Umberger and Derick Brassard to start the season, two players he spent a lot of time with last year. Having him on board and healthy is a sigh of relief for the Blue Jackets, who are looking to Atkinson to help spark the offense.
"Talking with him today, I told him he’s got to out and go hard," Richards said. "He’s gotta test it, and it can’t wait until tomorrow (at the morning skate). We had some drills today where there was a little battle and compete and the pace was good getting up and down the ice. He stayed out there the whole practice, so that’s good sign.
"Sometimes you’re worried about that because you want intensity in your drills, trying to prepare your guys to get ready for game situations. But you’re also worried at times about a guy taking a puck off the foot or someone going into the boards wrong. We were fortunate enough to come out of these last six days in good shape."
Columbus will carry a roster of 14 forwards, seven defensemen and two goaltenders.