Blue Jackets Open Training Camp with Optimism
Updated: Friday, September 13 2013, 10:25 AM EDT
COLUMBUS (Alex May) -- Brick by brick -- that's the message Blue Jackets President of Hockey Operations John Davidson has preached since arriving to Columbus almost a year ago.
The most noticeable brick added this offseason won't fill a locker room stall; it fills the locker room: confidence. The 2013-2014 Columbus Blue Jackets believe in themselves.
It starts in the net, backstopped by last year’s Vezina winner, Sergei Bobrovsky. He signed a new two-year contract in the offseason and will look to build on last year’s performance.
“He is going to keep us in as many games as possible and going to give us a chance to win just about every night,” said Center Mark Letestu.
The Blue Jackets will maintain a defense-first philosophy. The first day of training camp featured intense five-on-five workouts focused in the corners with the defense winning puck possession.
Several veterans have defensive positions locked down, and several young guys are pushing to make the team too. They know nothing is for granted.
“Last year I think I got my foot in the door and I played well up here, but it’s a whole new ballgame this year, clean slate for everybody,” said 23-year-old Cody Goloubef.
To win, the Blue Jackets will go with a “score by committee” system similar to last season. Letestu said the team doesn’t have one guy relied upon to score 50 goals, but they all are asked to contribute.
One of the guys who will be relied upon for some goals is 2010 4th overall pick, Ryan Johansen. With a full training camp this season, he’s looking to push his way into a higher role on the team.
“Guys like me, [Matt] Calvert, [Cam] Atkinson, the young guys coming up, we need to produce more offensively.”
Veterans in the Blue Jackets locker room know increased production from those young guys will lead to more points in the standings. Brandon Dubinsky thinks Johansen is primed for a breakout year.
“He’s definitely one of the most skilled guys on this team. He brings that body that every hockey player would kill for. We’re going to rely on him to do big things this year,” Dubinsky said. “I personally trained with him this summer, and I know what his goals are. I really feel this is the year where everything’s going to come together for Joey.”
“There’s certainly a sense of accomplishment from last year,” said center Mark Letestu. “I think there’s a hunger. We want more.”
During a drill in the first on-ice session, defenseman Jack Johnson checked Johansen into the net, knocking it off its moorings, and the two colliding into the boards. Johansen gave a shove to Johnson on the ice, but the two separated quickly.
Johnson said it was a good way to acclimate back to the physical element of the sport.
“It was a two-on-one drill, and I wasn’t going to let him cut right in front of me in training camp. I wasn’t going to give him the easy road. I was trying to be nice and just throwing a hip check and not hitting him high.”
“We had a little chit-chat after that,” Johansen said. “He was just setting the tone.”
The NHL will implement hybrid icing during all preseason games on a trial basis. Hybrid icing is being tested to try to minimize the possibility of a player getting hurt racing for a puck. The linesman will make two determinations. First, they’ll have to decide whether a dumped puck will cross the goal line. If it will, the linesman will decide which player, the defenseman or forward, would touch it first based on a “race” to the end-zone face-off circle. Hybrid Icing is meant to keep the focus on the race for the puck, while protecting players by moving the end of the race away from the end boards.
The NHLPA will vote on Hybrid Icing to decide if it will be implemented for the full 2013-14 season.
ODDS & ENDS:
Training camp continues tomorrow. The first group hits the ice at 10 a.m., while the second group will begin at 12:15 p.m. Both sessions will be in the OhioHealth Ice Haus and open to the public.
There will be a full-team scrimmage 11 a.m. Saturday on the main ice at Nationwide Arena.
I’ll be tweeting tidbits from camp, feel free to follow me @AlexMay985.