Notebook: Line 'em up, up, up (Oct. 1)
After Monday's practice, Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards hoped he would have the majority of his injured players back for today's skate.
The good news is that he did. Artem Anisimov was back, Nikita Nikitin as well, and Marian Gaborik returned from Slovakia where he was attending his grandmother's funeral. The lone absence today was Jared Boll, who skated on his own after the team practice and has yet to be ruled out for opening night.
You know what means, right? The Blue Jackets went through an hour-long practice and used a new set of line combinations, presumably some of the trios they hope to employ on opening night against Calgary. They worked on the power play - and really, few days have gone by without hammering away at it - and touched on a few more systematic things on their second day of a four-day practice week.
Because I can't keep you waiting any longer, here are those lines:
Jenner - Dubinsky - Gaborik
Letestu - Anisimov - Comeau
Calvert - Johansen - Atkinson
Umberger - MacKenzie - Foligno
Tyutin - Johnson
Murray - Wisniewski
Nikitin - Prout
Extras: Erixon, Savard
And some other notes, observations, ruminations...
- More good news for MacKenzie: he was skating "full go" today in practice and lost the non-contact sweater he was wearing on Monday. It sure looks as if he will be ready to go on Friday night.
- Some interesting line combinations used today, notably Johansen in between Calvert and Atkinson. Richards said earlier this week (and previously in camp) that he's looking for more offense from Johansen, and while he played well with Umberger and Foligno last season, he wants to see if he can spark Johansen with different line mates.
- The power play had some differing combinations, but the top two units were as follows: Calvert/Jenner - Dubinsky - Johansen with Letestu and Tyutin on the points. The presumably top unit featured Gaborik - Anisimov - Atkinson up front with Johnson and Wisniewski manning the point.
- Things can always change, but the current group of defensemen taking the regular rotations in practice appear to be the pairings in play for opening night. That would mean Erixon and Savard as the extras for Friday, but with a back-to-back this weekend, there's a chance one or both could rotate in.