Greetings. Kent Youngblood here. With Russo already in Columbus for tonight’s game, I went over to morning skate to keep tabs on what’s going on.
Here’s a recap:
--Neither forward Guillaume Latendresse nor defenseman Cam Barker skated today and neither will play tonight. Both have mild hip flexor strains. Both should be OK. It’s interesting that coach Todd Richards suggested that the lingering injury could have affected Latendresse throughout camp. “I don’t know how he felt throughout camp,” Richards said of Latendresse. “That might have explained his play somewhat. Some guys, there is a tremendous amount of pride. They don’t want to pull themselves off the ice for little injuries. But, sometimes, these little injuries can really affect the way they play.”
--Defenseman Clayton Stoner won’t make the trip either, but it isn’t due to health. It’s clear Richards things Stoner needs to play better. “I had a good talk with him (Monday),” Richards said. “And he knows it. He’s the first guy to admit his game isn’t where he wants it to be. It isn’t where we want it to be. We just have to take steps to try to help him out. Right now we feel the best is to have him sitt a little bit, work on his game on the ice in practices, and off the ice, try to clear his head a little bit. We saw him play last year, we have faith in him that he’s an NHL defenseman, because we did see that last year. WE just have to get him back to that point.”
Stoner skated hard long after the morning practice ended. “It has to do with me playing the way I can,” he said. “Sometimes guys have a couple bad games during the year, and I feel I haven’t gotten one bounce my way. They come in bunches. I don’t think I’ve had the best of luck out there either. … I’m not happy with my game right now. But we still have two weeks to the regular season. I think, in that time, I can find my game, the way I played last year.”
--With Latendresse out, Richards will have Cal Clutterbuck on a line with Matt Cullen and Martin Havlat. Eric Nystrom will skate with Chuck Kobasew and John Madden.
--One last thing. Asked how camp has gone this year, Richards said tonight’s game will be a strong indicator. “This is the game you kind of use as a measuring stick as to how we did (during camp),” he said.
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