Hockey is back in Columbus.
Head coach John Tortorella opened the Blue Jackets' training camp on Monday afternoon, welcoming a 22-player group onto the ice for a half-hour practice – which you can watch in the video above – followed by some conditioning afterward. The second group of 11 players was slated to skate three hours after the first group got done.
"I put the teams together for a reason: To let players know where they stand in the coaches' mind right now," Tortorella said after practice. "But there's some good things going on in both groups."
In the opening group, which Tortorella will bring with him to take on the Maple Leafs, we got our first look at the lines.
Of course, some of them could change between now and Aug. 2, when the five-game series with Toronto opens. Columbus gets two weeks of practices at the Ice Haus before shifting to the bubble city – Toronto. But the lines offer a good insight on what to expect.
|1st||ALEXANDER TEXIER||PIERRE-LUC DUBOIS||OLIVER BJORKSTRAND|
|2nd||GUSTAV NYQUIST||ALEXANDER WENNBERG||CAM ATKINSON|
|3rd||NICK FOLIGNO||BOONE JENNER||EMIL BEMSTROM|
|4th||LIAM FOUDY||RILEY NASH||ERIC ROBINSON|
|1st||ZACK WERENSKI||SETH JONES|
|2nd||VLADISLAV GAVRIKOV||DAVID SAVARD|
|3rd||RYAN MURRAY||DEAN KUKAN|
|4th||MARKUS NUTIVAARA||SCOTT HARRINGTON|
Of course, the goalies on each end were Elvis Merzlikins and Joonas Korpisalo. They got equal work, with Tortorella saying, "We have no clue who’s going to be our goaltender," after the conclusion of practice.
A few notes from the lines and the opening practice:
- Markus Nutivaara is outside of the top-six among defensemen. He was paired up with Scott Harrington on the fourth pair.
- Dean Kukan was among the top-six defensemen, playing alongside Ryan Murray. The 26-year-old got his first playoff action last year.
- Liam Foudy, who's appeared in two games with the Blue Jackets, is on the "speed line" with Eric Robinson and Riley Nash.
- Merzlikins wore new leg pads that didn't have the Columbus skyline on them as he'd worn in the regular season.
You can catch Monday's full practice in the video above, and we'll be bringing you further coverage of the lead-up to the Stanley Cup Qualifiers every day, so stay locked in with us.