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The Legs Feed The Wolf: Blue Jackets Skate Hard to Start Camp

Updated: Saturday, September 14 2013, 06:55 PM EDT

COLUMBUS (Alex May) -- Skate hard, and with a purpose. Its been a clear message early on in the Blue Jackets training camp. Fridays session featured lots of drills focused on skating. Two-on-zero drills had the players moving at a decent clip.

This team intends on being well-conditioned against its opponents.

Everybody did a great job in fitness testing, everyone worked hard in the summer, and now the hardest stuff is behind us and its just time to have fun and play, said defenseman Cody Goloubef on the offseason workouts prior to training camp.

Like Thursday, the team also focused on drills in the offensive zone, including cycling the puck.

Some players, including left winger Nick Foligno expect more offense generated from behind the goal line, now that the size of the nets have been reduced.

Goalies are going to have to move a lot faster now to get side-to-side. If youre not a fast goalie its going to hurt you in this league, said Foligno. Its something that I think some teams are going to have to key on because it can make a difference of getting more havoc by the net, because theres that much faster of a play there.

The Blue Jackets have decided right wing Jared Boll is a brick worth building with. Boll and the team agreed on a three-year contract extension this afternoon. Known for his physicality, the veteran forward ranks 2nd on the teams all-time penalty minutes list, and 4th in games played.

He spent the off season in Columbus rehabbing from offseason hernia surgery.

Jared Boll has invested a great deal of himself in this organization and community and we are very happy that he will continue to be an important part of our hockey club, said General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen. He brings toughness, determination and a great work ethic to our team and has become an important leader for us both on and off the ice.

In 43 games last season, Boll scored twice and added four assists. He also registered 100 penalty minutes. He is 37 PIMs shy of 1,000 for his career.

Through the first two days of training camp, the new size of the goalies equipment has been noticeable. The NHL, with approval from its players association, changed the rules for goaltenders equipment for this coming season. 

The pads will now be no longer than nine inches above a goalies knee. Previously it was 11 inches. The change was made to increase scoring by creating more space in a goalies five hole, between his legs.

The loss of two inches on a goalies pad doesnt seem too big of a deal until its seen in person.

However the change doesnt seem to be bothering goalies in camp. Veteran net-minder Curtis McElhinney says it was a quick adjustment.

The first couple days there [were] a few squeaking through the middle there, McElhinney said, but after that, they actually feel pretty good.

McElhinney joked he didnt want to say too much because his pads could end up being reduced to regular shin pads.

Left winger R.J. Umberger has trimmed down. The former Buckeye said he usually targets arriving to training camp around 220 pounds but came in around 214 pounds this season. Six pounds doesnt sound like much, but Umberger has always had low body fat.

I felt with my strength and size, that I could come in at 214 or 215 pounds and be the same power wise and feel a little quicker, Umberger said. I did it on my own and I feel good about it.

A native of Pittsburgh, Umberger does his offseason conditioning there. He says hes looking forward to the Blue Jackets move to the Eastern Conference.

In general, Im excited about being in the east again. Playing some of those teams I was familiar with early in my career, Umberger said. I think its going be a lot of fun hockey. Its going to be different scenarios, things that we arent used to. Its always fun playing your hometown team.

The Blue Jackets kick off their preseason schedule Sunday evening at Nationwide Arena, taking on the Pittsburgh Penguins at 6 p.m.

Ill be tweeting tidbits from camp, feel free to follow me @AlexMay985.

The Legs Feed The Wolf: Blue Jackets Skate Hard to Start Camp

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Sports Director Clay Hall
WSYX - Clay Hall

Clay Hall is the Sports Director for ABC 6 and FOX 28. With 16 years covering Central Ohio sports, he's been in press boxes from Tuscon...

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