Richards warns Blue Jackets ‘we can’t just turn it on’ when season starts

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The Columbus Blue Jackets face a new challenge in joining the Metropolitan Division via realignment, so perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that head coach Todd Richards is getting worked up about preseason games.

From Sunday to Tuesday, Richards has questioned his team’s efforts more than the results, emphasizing that they can’t just flip a switch when the regular season begins.

On Sunday, Richards downplayed an OT exhibition win against the Pittsburgh Penguins, bringing up the team’s Oct. 4 season opener.

“We can’t expect come Oct. 4 that we’re going to pick up right where we left off,” Richards said on Sunday. “We still have to work hard.”

Two days later, the Blue Jackets played a pair of preseason games, with one group beating the Minnesota Wild’s 3-1* and another losing to the Buffalo Sabres 3-1. Richards sounded like a broken record after those games tonight.

“One thing concerns me: are we waiting for Oct. 4? We can’t just turn it on then,” Richards said. “Your effort should never be questioned at what you do. Everything we got last year was through our effort.”

So, to review: Richards thinks that the days before Oct. 4 are important, even if the games don’t count until then.

All joking aside, it’s an important message that other NHL head coaches are likely trying to send as well, Richards just happens to be sending it repeatedly in the media.

* – Interesting side note: assistant coach Craig Hartsburg raved about the split-squad he coached in Minnesota on Tuesday, so maybe Richards merely needs to get through to the other chunk of the team.

Sabres place Lehner on IR; Recall Lieuwen

Connor Brown, Robin Lehner
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They’re just one game into their regular season, but the Buffalo Sabres have already had to shift things around in their crease.

The Sabres announced that they have placed starting goaltender Robin Lehner on injured reserve after he was knocked out of Thursday’s game with a lower-body injury.

In a corresponding move, the club has recalled Nathan Lieuwen from their AHL affiliate in Rochester.

The 24-year-old didn’t play in the NHL last season, but he did have a 1-4-0 record with a 2.98 goals-against-average and a .906 save percentage in seven games during the 2013-14 season.

Lieuwen was Buffalo’s sixth round pick, 167th overall, in the 2011 draft.

The Sabres also announced that they have loaned defenseman Jake McCabe and goaltender Linus Ullmark to the Rochester Americans (AHL).

McCabe was a healthy scratch in Thursday’s game against Ottawa, while Ullmark is being activated off I.R. after having double hip surgery during the off-season.



Chara ‘doubtful’ for game against rival Canadiens

Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara
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It looks like the Boston Bruins will be without their captain again on Saturday night.

Head coach Claude Julien told members of the media that Zdeno Chara is considered doubtful for tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens.

Chara suffered an upper-body injury during the preseason and he’s already been forced to miss Boston’s season opening loss to the Jets.

Per CSN, Chara says he’s improving but he won’t return to the lineup until he’s as close to 100 percent as possible.

“Every area of the injury is improving,” said Chara. “Hopefully it’s not long before I’m free of any kind of discomfort. That’s what we’re doing right now…we’re being patient. For sure you don’t want to come back, and be half of what you are…and basically hurting yourself and the team. And you’re putting yourself in a position where you could be missing more time. At this time of the season, I think it’s important to be as close as you can be to 100 percent.”

Based on the number of defensive mistakes they committed on Thursday, the Bruins need Chara back as soon as possible: