Blue Jackets notebook: Boll takes fighting stance early
Blue Jackets right winger Jared Boll mixes it up with Red Wings right winger Jordin Tootoo shortly after the opening faceoff at Nationwide Arena.
It took Blue Jackets right winger Jared Boll and Detroit Red Wings counterpart Jordin Tootoo all of three seconds to drop their gloves and set the tone of the Jackets’ home opener last night at Nationwide Arena.
The presence of the fourth-line bruisers in the starting lineups meant they had a singular mission, and it wasn’t to control the opening faceoff.
“When (Tootoo) is on the ice, he’s got a job to do,” Boll said. “You just want to make sure he doesn’t run around and knows that this is our rink. That’s my job.”
Both players connected with multiple right hands, but Boll got the best of things. He pounded Tootoo to the ice twice, but Tootoo bounced up both times and kept throwing punches until they were separated after 45 seconds. Detroit coach Mike Babcock inserted Tootoo into the starting lineup with forwards Justin Abdelkader and Daniel Cleary after a season-opening loss Saturday at St. Louis.
Blue Jackets coach Mike Richards countered with Boll, Derick Brassard and R.J. Umberger.
“They obviously wanted to get momentum, and we wanted to get momentum,” Boll said. “There was a huge crowd tonight, and I wanted to get (the fans) into it right away.”
“I think I did all right,” Boll said.
Babcock said the Blue Jackets are heading in the right direction after the offseason trade of former captain Rick Nash.
“By moving Nash they acquired depth,” said Babcock, who has 422 career wins. “They’ve been a team on the rise even though people on the outside don’t see that. They’ve been a team getting better and better each and every year.”
Babcock said injuries put the Jackets “off-kilter” last season, when they finished in 30th place for the first time in franchise history. But he has been impressed by the Blue Jackets’ top two defensive pairs of Jack Johnson and James Wisniewski, and Fedor Tyutin and Nikita Nikitin. And he said he liked the continued maturation of 20-year-old center Ryan Johansen.
“And their fourth group, with (center Derek) MacKenzie, they’re worker bees, those guys,” Babcock said. “They’re going to be hard to play against.”
Ready and waiting
Johansen centered the third line in place of Mark Letestu in each of the first two games, making Letestu a healthy scratch for the first two times in his Jackets career.
Letestu, acquired from Pittsburgh for a fourth-round draft pick in November 2011, had 11 goals and 13 assists in 51 games for the Blue Jackets last season.
“I think I can still play the top (two lines) here,” Letestu said. “There is depth. The (Nash) trade brings in more. But in a short season like this, you’re going to need contributions from all 23 guys. I know my chance is going to come.”
Dublin residents Sean Kuraly and Connor Murphy, former Blue Jackets youth players who won a gold medal playing for the United States at the world junior championships, dropped the ceremonial first puck. They are the first central Ohioans to play in the World Juniors. email@example.com