By Mike Harrington
It started to be crystal clear in practice Wednesday which way Ron Rolston was leaning regarding Mikhail Grigorenko, as John Vogl reported in Thursday's editions. And the coach followed through with the talk today. Grigorenko will be a healthy scratch for tonight's game against the Columbus Blue Jackets and Johan Larsson will take his spot between Zemgus Girgensons and Brian Flynn.
"We go back to the impact he has on a game," Rolston said of Grigorenko. "Right now he just needs to pick up his urgency in his game. There hasn't been a lot of urgency to it. At times there has been, but not consistent enough."
Grigorenko has no points and is minus-1 in the first four games, and his ice time barely exceeded eight minutes in Tuesday's overtime loss to Tampa Bay. The 19-year-old has one goal and five points in 29 NHL games the last two seasons.
Larsson was scratched for the opener in Detroit, struggled while playing just 6:55 in the home opener against Ottawa, was better while playing 9:09 in Pittsburgh and then was scratched again Tuesday. Rolston has been doing some heavy video work with him on defensive zone and away-from-the-puck positioning.
"It's the small details away from the puck, positioning and everything," Larsson said. "It's coming more and more. You have to be in the right spots at the right times. I'm watching a lot of video and learning from that. It shouldn't be that big a problem right now. "
Larsson said he felt more confident against Pittsburgh and wants to maintain better possession of the puck rather than dump it away too quickly.
"I like his competitve nature and what he brings," Rolston said. "He'll battle. He's a smart player. He's in good position all the time. He'll continue to make those adjustments."
The Blue Jackets are 1-1 and have not played since Saturday's shootout win over the New York Islanders. Sergei Bobrovsky is slated to be in goal tonight and Rolston said Ryan Miller is over his groin problems and should return.
John Scott and Alexander Sulzer join Grigorenko as tonight's healthy scratches. Rolston said defenseman Henrik Tallinder, who skated today in a non-contact role, could play Saturday in Chicago. Tallinder said if he's not ready for that game, he'd almost certainly be ready for Monday's Jason Pominville homecoming game against Minnesota.
Click below to hear Rolston's session with the media today.
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