COLUMBUS, Ohio – On the day before Thanksgiving, the Blue Jackets held an optional skate within the quiet confines of Nationwide Arena. Eleven players, including forwards Brandon Dubinsky (abdominal surgery) and Mark Letestu (groin) skated within the quiet confines of the arena.
Head coach Todd Richards said Tuesday after the loss to Winnipeg that he did not expect any of the injured players to be in the lineup for Friday’s game versus the visiting Vancouver Canucks.
Dubinsky, who hasn’t suited up for a game this season, was making tight turns and cuts with relative ease. He would appear to be close to his season debut, although nothing is imminent. And it’s obvious that not only his skill, but his voice, is missed by a team mired where the Blue Jackets currently sit.
"Without question, there’s something that we miss," said Richards. "The big question is how much? What he provides is that relentless, hard game. The other thing he brings is his emotion. He doesn’t like losing, nobody does, but there are some guys that… you can see it on their face. They’re not afraid to say what’s on their mind."
"Sometimes it’s a good thing and sometimes it’s a bad thing. But right now, with where we’re at and what’s going on, I think it’s something that we’re missing."
Richards spent the morning watching game film from the 4-2 loss to Winnipeg. As has been the case lately, there were glimpses of the team playing to their identity. The third period Tuesday night is a case in point.
They got their forecheck working, were getting puck deep and were shooting. Despite the "pings" of pucks hitting goalposts, it was a good sign that served to remind them that they do indeed remember how to play the right way. The question for some time now has been why are they unable to put it all together over the course of 60 minutes?
"I think right now, some of it is an attitude," he said. "When you’re going through the stretch that we’re going through, it’s hard. Sometimes, that’s what you’re battling against. I’m talking about playing a proactive rather than reactive game."
"Sometimes, you’re almost waiting for bad things to happen, instead of just going out and playing. It’s easier said than done, I know that. It’s easy to sit here and say ‘go out and play’. Players are the ones that have to do it and deal with that. But that’s getting confident, having confidence and going out and doing it for 60 minutes."
At this point, confidence is something that isn’t seen too much around here. Having a good, energetic shift or getting a goal could be the impetus to raise the confidence. As a team, it’s just about getting a win and the two points that it will bring. That lack of confidence speaks to the tentativeness with which they played the first forty minutes on Tuesday night.
Who knows? It might just be some little thing that gives them the confidence to believe, once again, that anything is possible.
Defenseman James Wisniewski played in his 500th career game Tuesday night and notched his 250th point. Against Winnipeg he had an assist, three shots, three hits and finished the night with a +/- of +1.
Defenseman Dalton Prout played in his 100th career game Tuesday and had six hits on the night.
Forward Corey Tropp also played in his 100th career game Tuesday, finishing with one shot and two hits.
Defenseman Jordan Leopold’s first period goal Tuesday was his first goal since February 4, 2014 in a game against Ottawa while he was with St. Louis.