Everyone and their grandmother has already chimed in on Blue Jackets Camp Day 1, so I’ll leave a few thoughts before I’m completely left in the dust.
First, a thought that will render everything after nearly useless: it was a one day, two hour sample size, and these observations are from only one set of non-scouting eyes. Even further: there were only other Blue Jacket players to compare against.
Lines shifted somewhat in the drills, but were generally as follows: Forwards: Umberger-Brassard-Atkinson, Prospal-Letestu-Foligno, Anisimov-Dubinsy-Dorsett, Jenner-MacKenzie-Boll, Gilles-Johansen-Calvert Defense: Nikitin-Tyutin, Johnson-Wisniewski, Aucoin-Moore, Savard-Erixon Goal: Bobrovsky, Mason
As noted astutely by both Tom and Morgan of the Dark Blue Jacket, this is a team that features three “second” forward lines. Individual forwards didn’t (and quite frankly shouldn’t) stand out at a practice like this. (Of course, that only complicates the comparing Jacket-to-Jacket thing…) I’ve already expressed my concerns about Johnson and Wisniewski as a defensive pairing, but if Nikitin and Tyutin have more ice time, that problem should be somewhat mitigated. As of yet, the fifth through seventh defensemen roles weren’t solidified. It seems likely that Aucoin will take that fifth spot, but who he’ll be matched with is unclear.
The line of Calvert-Johansen-Gilles was troubling. Either they were excessively challenged or just didn’t look sharp. It was fitting that they were the only players in grey uniforms; they didn’t seem in the right place. Of course, today’s lineup has already shifted and sees Johansen in a top nine role. Judging from yesterday, however, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine Johansen being left in Springfield. It’s at sensible if he’s not ready but still discouraging. Proper line management from Todd Richards could see developing offensive talent given the top opportunities (imagine Johansen-Atkinson-Brassard being given high offensive zone start % versus relatively weak competition). The final layout of the team will come later
Probably the most obvious coaching effort was the focus on goalies, particularly Bobrovsky, by Ian Clark. It’s expected of the goaltending coach, but it was interesting watching Clark constantly discussing and demonstrating positions. The end of practice in particular saw a few leftover skaters (Johansen, Erixon, and Savard among others) doing drills while Clark observed his players’ reactions. Neither netminder stood out, but with events on both ends of the ice it’s hard to watch two goalies at once.
Now some quick hits: Calvert had the best highlight of the day with a single superb effort (dazzling hands and speed) but was otherwise unremarkable… Dorsett looked good with his linemates, but had unimpressive one-on-one efforts versus Aucoin and Erixon… Boone Jenner seemed half step behind everybody else, suggesting that reports about his skating aren’t incorrect and that he’ll need to adjust to NHL speed…
Finally, there is one comparison point for Sunday’s training camp: relative to the college games I’ve seen this year, practice Sunday was fast. Of course, that serves as reminder that the lockout was a colossal waste of time and that the best version of our favorite sport is actually returning.