Things learned from sticking around Blue Jackets locker room
OCT 12, 2013 12:20p ET
"I'm starting to get used to the speed now," Murray noted. "I'm also learning where guys are going to be and where to put the puck. And the game is slowing down. The Buffalo game definitely felt the slowest. I don't know it that was the actual speed of the game or if I'm getting used to it."
The Saskatchewan native says he felt he controlled the puck much better in Buffalo, and that's not just because his learning curve is up; it’s also because his hockey stick is down.
"I took about an inch or two off my stick after the second game," Murray explained, "and I felt a lot better making plays. With a shorter stick, you have to bend your knees more, and I think you're more in control. I didn't think I was handling the puck as well as I should, and it felt a lot better in Buffalo."
Murray was plus-3 in the 4-1 win over the Sabres and also picked up his first NHL point, an assist on Marian Gaborik's goal late in the first period. More results with less stick; the young defenseman will take that tradeoff every game, and so will the Blue Jackets.
Today Columbus welcomes the defending Eastern Conference champion Boston Bruins for a rare matinee at Nationwide Arena, and the Blue Jackets know it's an early measuring stick. What's the biggest challenge?
"Well, they're a committed group over there," said R.J. Umberger. "They're obviously the Eastern Conference champions. They have a lot of skill up front, some big defensemen, good goaltending. They're just a complete team. They play physical hockey, take pucks to the net. It's going to be a great test for us. They were the best in our conference last year, so for us it's a good measuring point early in the season."
Cam Atkinson was in full agreement.
"Absolutely, they're one of the best teams in the NHL," said the winger, who picked up a goal and an assist Thursday in Buffalo. "They were the number one team in the Eastern Conference last year, so it's going to be a great test for us to see where we're at. I'm looking forward to it, and I think all the guys are, too."
And Jared Boll knows the Bruins are one of the toughest challenges in the NHL.
"They’ve been good here for the past few years," Boll said. "They're a top team in this league, so it's going to be good test for us. They play physical and hard, and they play the right way."
And finally, what NHL player already has two goals on the season but hasn’t put the puck into the net? That would be none other than Nick Foligno. Both of his goals have gone off opposition players, and it'd be fine with him if he scored all of his goals that way.
"Yup, exactly," Foligno laughed. "I'd be happy with that; they all count. It's been pretty funny, but as long as we're contributing as a line, I don't mind.
"In the NHL nowadays everyone collapses so hard to the net, a lot of goals go off people. And it just happened in my case the past two. As a line, I think we're doing a lot of good things and generating chances to get the puck to the net, and they're going in right now."
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