Through an inconsistent three-week stretch to begin the season, the Blue Jackets seemed to be a club in need of a spark. A player, a line, a game...just something to get them going.
Coach Todd Richards had seen flashes of play from his team that show what they're capable of on a nightly basis, but they have also been guilty of subpar periods which have put them behind the eight-ball. Blue Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski summed it up last night when he said the team can't get hung up on individual wins and losses because the race is so tight; they simply have to keep improving with every game.
Heading into Sunday's game against the Edmonton Oilers, Richards made significant line changes in an effort to jump-start the Blue Jackets offense. Though it was a disappointing 3-1 loss, the Blue Jackets did much of what they set out to do: they put 40 shots on Oilers goalie Devan Dubnyk and had more than enough opportunities to win the game, and the only thing lacking was finish.
The catalyst ended up being Brandon Dubinsky's line with Matt Calvert and Nick Foligno -- a combination of three of Columbus' most consistent forwards so far. They weren't rewarded on the scoresheet on Sunday, but 24 hours later against the San Jose Sharks, the pucks that weren't going in and the bounces they weren't getting suddenly showed up.
Right from the first shift, that line set the tone, Richards said. Dubinsky scored the first goal (his first as a Blue Jacket) only 43 seconds into the game, which was a deserved reward for a guy who has been as reliable as they come and embodies what the coaching and management staff wants from its veteran players.Read the full story on Dubinsky's line inside this blog post.
“It was a dream come true,” Goloubef said after the game. “You think about playing your first game and scoring your first goal – it’s huge.”
The shot did not look like your typical blaster from the point, but Goloubef said that’s not his style. The play started after Nick Foligno won a battle in the corner and pushed the puck to Derek MacKenzie, who dished it to Goloubef at the blue line. He took only a moment to windup just a little before sending the puck through traffic and into the net behind Sharks goaltender Thomas Greiss.
“You see most guys wind up all the way up to the roof. I don’t wind up, I don’t unscrew the light bulbs – I just keep it quick,” Goloubef said.
The quick release was something that Goloubef said he worked on in college a lot and carried with him because it seemed to work for him.
“I feel like I have a better shot when I get it off quickly,” he said. “I get a little more torque on my stick for whatever reason, but it seems to work for me so I’m gonna stick to it.”Read the full story on Goloubef's first career goal inside this blog post.
We're gonna need a bigger boat.
(Okay, that's my second shark/"Jaws" reference of the night and I promise I'm done.) Moving along.
After an optional morning skate today at Nationwide Arena, the Blue Jackets talked about "emptying the tanks" tonight against the San Jose Sharks -- which is another pretty good shark pun, but I digress. They played a reliable and aggressive game on Sunday against the Edmonton Oilers and didn't get the result they were looking for, but they did not let it deter them.
Make no bones about it: this was an important game for the Blue Jackets tonight. They really wanted to win this one before heading out on the road for a lengthy trip, and they pretty much did what they wanted to do.
The stats don't lie, either. A total of 14 different Blue Jackets checked in on the scoresheet tonight and six different players scored goals. Among them were Brandon Dubinsky with his first goal in the union blue sweater, and young blue liner Cody Goloubef, who has filled in admirably on defense and tallied his first career goal this evening.
Matt Calvert (two assists), Dubinsky (goal and assist), and Nick Foligno (two assists) all recorded multi-point games for Columbus, and it shouldn't come as a surprise that those three guys play on the same line. Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards put the trio together prior to Sunday's game and they seemed to click right away, so why break them up? They rewarded their coach with a terrific performance that catalyzed the team's biggest offensive output of the season.
Get the full post-game breakdown inside this blog post.
Watching games with an empty, helpless feeling is getting pretty old for Cam Atkinson.
On injured reserve since Jan. 27 (and retroactive to Jan. 23) with a lower body injury, the 23-year-old forward is aching to get back in the lineup and help a Blue Jackets offense that has been struggling to score goals.
Before his injury, Atkinson had scored one goal in Columbus' first three games -- a beautiful breakaway goal in the home opener against Detroit -- after scoring 17 goals and 38 points in 33 games with Springfield (AHL). His goal-scoring presence has been missed in recent weeks, but with some patient rehabbing and constant monitoring of his injury, Atkinson is optimistic that he will be back on the ice soon.
Along with two other injured Blue Jackets, John Moore and Adrian Aucoin, Atkinson took part in his first team practice today since the injury. All three hope to be on the Blue Jackets' upcoming road trip to California, but Atkinson in particular has the Feb. 15 game in Los Angeles circled as a potential return date.
Read the full update on Atkinson's injury inside this blog post.
The Blue Jackets are back in action tonight at Nationwide Arena, taking on the San Jose Sharks before embarking on a six-game road trip out West. The puck drops at 7 p.m., and the Blue Jackets are hoping to build off the “good things” from last night’s loss against the Edmonton Oilers.
Although today’s skate was optional with only 10 skaters and both goalies participating in drills run by assistant coach Dan Hinote, head coach Todd Richards still had a lot to say post-skate. Here are a few of the highlights:
Takeaways from Edmonton:
Despite allowing a short-handed goal late in the game yesterday to give the Oilers the upper hand, the Blue Jackets improved in many areas. They registered 40 shots in the game and forced the Oilers to play in their defensive zone, but could not put more than one goal on the board.
Richards called the game a “disappointment,” but said they need to focus on the good things that came from it.
“That was one of our better games. We still forced them into areas that we needed to force them into,” he said. “Last night was a good step, a really good step. You gotta come off that came and you gotta build off the positives that we did.
“I think we have a lot of things that we can build off of from last night. Again, it’s where our game is headed, where we want it to go, where we think we can get it to.”Read the full story from today's morning skate inside this blog post.
10:15 A.M. -- We're back at Nationwide Arena for today's morning skate, which is an optional skate beginning in about 15 minutes. The players have started to filer on the ice for the skate, and there are some notable new faces that we'll tell you about shortly.
Stay tuned to this blog throughout the day for the absolute latest from practice, including player interviews, lineup news and more.
Every now and then, you need your goaltender to steal one. The Oilers, playing on back-to-back nights, received such a performance from Devan Dubnyk tonight.
He was spectacular for Edmonton and made 39 saves in the winning effort, his fifth win against the Blue Jackets in the last six tries. The 6-foot-6 former first-round pick (2004) made it seem like everything was hitting him square in the logo, and it befuddled the Blue Jackets who never relented.
It was a hellacious third period spent mostly in the Oilers end, and the Blue Jackets had the gas pedal down the whole way. Check the puck back, transition quickly and get right back in on the forecheck: they did this over and over and over, generated 40 shots on the game and were dominating for the majority of the game. This game hung in the balance until its 57th minute, and it came down to execution.
Magnus Paajarvi scored a huuuuge goal for the Oilers, a shorthanded tally with just 3:10 left on the clock when all the momentum was turned against them.
Let's break it down with full post-game analysis, which can be found inside this blog post.
It’s a hockey night in Columbus for the next two days as the Blue Jackets take on the Edmonton Oilers tonight at 6 p.m. and the San Jose Sharks tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Nationwide Arena. The Blue Jackets practiced yesterday and skated briefly this morning. Here are some storylines from the media presser following today’s morning skate:
Wiz is back:
James Wisniewski will return to the line-up tonight against the Oilers. He has missed two games due to an injury sustained on Feb. 2 against the Detroit Red Wings. Here’s what he had to say about coming back from an injury:
“I feel good – feeling really good considering everything that’s happened. Just looking forward to getting back in the line-up. Got some good get well tweets and on Facebook, so that was really nice.”
Wisniewski said his focus is on getting back to helping the team win, especially in preparation of a six-game road trip coming up after tomorrow night’s game.
“These next few games are huge, really important to try and get back close to .500. There’s no easy games. Every team is close and you win three games in a row, you’re right back in the playoff run. These two games are absolutely crucial and to go back on the road, you just have to keep it simple… eat, sleep, and play hockey.”Get all the storylines from today's morning skate inside this blog post.
Last year's season series between the Blue Jackets and Oilers was fairly lopsided, with Edmonton winning three of the four games. For whatever reason, the Oilers didn't appear to be a good match-up for Columbus and especially so at Rexall Place, where skilled players like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall could really get their skating game going.
The Oilers are a year older and a year wiser, and if you can believe it, are more skilled than they were a season ago. Top pick Nail Yakupov made the squad out of the six-day training camp and is currently playing on coach Ralph Kreuger's third line, a switch made prior to yesterday's matinee in Detroit.
It's hard to find a more dynamic top six in the league, and part of the credit goes to Krueger for getting veterans like Shawn Horcoff (Edmonton's captain) and longtime Oiler Ryan Smyth to buy into lesser roles. The road has been paved for the Oilers' bright future, and with Nugent-Hopkins and Sam Gagner holding down the top two center spots, there's a ton of potential with this group.James Wisniewski draws back into the lineup eight days after a scary collision into the end boards. He said he's feeling good, and aside from general hockey soreness, there are no ill effects. David Savard was assigned to Springfield yesterday to relieve some of the logjam on defense.
Read the "three keys" to success for today's game inside this blog post.
GETTING STARTED: Good morning, Blue Jackets fans, and another happy game day to all of you and thanks for checking in with the game day blog. The morning skate is slated to start a bit normal than usual (probably around 9:45 a.m.) due to today's 6 p.m. puck drop at Nationwide Arena.
An important and should-be entertaining game on tap today, one would think. The Oilers dropped a 2-1 decision yesterday in Detroit, while the Blue Jackets are eager to make amends for a 4-3 overtime loss to the Calgary Flames on Thursday. One of these teams is going to break out of a losing streak today; the Oilers have lost five straight, and the Blue Jackets have dropped back-to-back contests after beating the Red Wings last weekend.
We're expecting Devan Dubnyk to start in net for Edmonton today, and we should get word soon regarding the Blue Jackets' starting netminder. Stay tuned to the blog for all the latest, as we'll have more updates, photos, player/coach interviews and more throughout the day.Follow along for the latest by clicking inside this blog post.