Good morning and happy game day! The Blue Jackets and St. Louis Blues are set for a Central Division clash tonight at Nationwide Arena, and the BlueJackets.com game day blog is here and ready to be your one-stop shop for all the latest news, interviews and more from now until puck drop.
That last sentence kind of rhymed, which would be extra cool if I was planning on it. I actually didn't realize it until after I posted this. Consider it a late edit to make myself feel good.
The skinny on tonight's game: the Blue Jackets are looking to bounce back from Tuesday's 3-2 loss in Minnesota in which they fought back from 2-0 deficit, only to give up the winner with 5:19 to play. They've got an opponent tonight that's playing solid hockey and has won five of its first six games, so it'll be another "all hands on deck" performance needed to get the win.
Let's recap yesterday's happenings before heading down to the Blue Jackets morning skate:
- Jonathan Audy-Marchessault and Tim Erixon were called up from Springfield yesterday and both players are expected to make their Blue Jackets debuts tonight. It will be the NHL debut for Audy-Marchessault, 22, who is the third-leading scorer in the AHL and like Erixon, represented the Falcons at last weekend's AHL All-Star Classic in Providence.
Keep up with the latest on game day by following the LIVE blog!
The injury bug has found its way to the Blue Jackets, but on the bright side, it presents an opportunity for some of the organization's prospects to step up and contribute.
Jonathan Audy-Marchessault and Tim Erixon were recalled by the club this afternoon in the wake of more injuries suffered in the last two games. Both players recently appeared in the AHL's All-Star Weekend in Providence, where Audy-Marchessault and Erixon were named starters for the Eastern Conference.
More affectionately known as "JAM," Audy-Marchessault is currently the third-leading scorer in the AHL with 45 points (16 goals, 29 assists) in 42 games. He's the leading active scorer in the AHL, as Jordan Eberle and Justin Schultz of Oklahoma City are both in the NHL with the Edmonton Oilers.
Audy-Marchessault, 22, was signed to an entry-level deal by the Blue Jackets in July as an unrestricted free agent. He spent one season with the Connecticut Whale on an AHL-only deal, so Columbus was able to sign him and get him under contract for at least the next three years. He's a highly-skilled play maker who can dangle and shoot the puck, and has been a regular scoring threat for Brad Larsen's power play unit in Springfield.Read more about today's recalls inside this blog post.
Todd Richards was visibly displeased with the performance of his team tonight, and he wanted no part of the travel delay or back-to-back nights as an excuse.
He expected -- and his players did, too -- a better effort coming to St. Paul to take on a Wild team that had been slumping lately. There was an opening and opportunity for the Blue Jackets to build on the good things they did Monday night against Dallas and further establish consistency in their style of play.
But as Richards said after the game, he thought his team only put in a half-night's work.
Their first 10 minutes and final 20 were exactly what they were looking for, but unfortunately, the meat of tonight's game was their undoing. Mikko Koivu opened the scoring on a fluky goal midway through the first period, Tom Gilbert scored on a Blue Jackets defensive zone breakdown, and Pierre-Marc Bouchard netted the winner on another broken play.
Did they play well enough to win? At times, certainly, but their lapses were glaring and if not for Mason it could have been far worse than a one-goal game.
The NHL's youngest team entering the game, the Blue Jackets could be on the verge of getting younger. Adrian Aucoin and Nikita Nikitin both suffered injuries in Minnesota and will be evaluated once the team gets back to Columbus, Richards said. The nature of their injuries is unknown.
Read the full breakdown in "Aftermath" by clicking inside this blog post.
As relieving and exciting as last night's 2-1 win over Dallas was, it is now a thing of the past.
The Blue Jackets, through some fog delays and a late arrival in St. Paul, have to turn the page and quickly get ready for a tangle with the Minnesota Wild tonight. It's an offensively-charged, fast-skating club on the other bench this evening, and once again, the Blue Jackets will have their improved checking game put to the test.
Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu, Dany Heatley, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Devin Setoguchi, Mikael Granlund...there's no shortage of talent on Mike Yeo's club and there aren't any sluggish skaters in that group. They like to push the pace, get the puck moving up the ice and putting pucks on the target. Parise's the hot hand right now, riding a five-game scoring streak and leading the team with five goals in the first five games.
Yeo will start Niklas Backstrom in goal tonight; Backstrom holds a 9-5-1 lifetime record against the Blue Jackets with a 2.27 goals-against average and .923 save percentage. On the Columbus side, Steve Mason gets the nod in goal and he's 4-5-1 in his career against the Wild with a 2.76 goals-against average and .905 save percentage.
This is an interesting game for many reasons: can the Blue Jackets put three solid efforts together and get the desired result on back-to-back nights, and will they be able to slow down the Wild's top line?
Read the "three keys" to tonight's game inside this blog post.
Good afternoon, everyone. The Blue Jackets have arrived safely in St. Paul, Minn. and are getting ready to take on the Wild tonight at Xcel Energy Center. After some travel delays (thanks, fog) that forced the team to fly out of Columbus this morning rather than last night, everyone's refreshed and ready to go for tonight's 8 p.m. ET puck drop.
Steve Mason gets the start in goal for the Blue Jackets, and he will oppose Niklas Backstrom in net for the Wild.
We're about two hours and 15 minutes from the opening face-off in Minnesota. Follow along inside this blog post for all the latest news!
Brandon Dubinsky is quickly becoming one of the Blue Jackets’ go-to players in clutch situations.
His five full seasons with the New York Rangers consisted of 31 playoff games, and that experience is something he frequently relies on. Since joining the Blue Jackets over the summer, he’s wanted to be one of the players on the ice protecting a lead in the third period and also one of the players charged with finding the tying goal.
Though the offense hasn’t arrived yet for the 26-year-old center (one assist in the first six games), his impact is noticeable. Dubinsky began the 2012-13 season playing the wing on a line with Artem Anisimov and Derek Dorsett, but has since switched back to the middle to center a unit with Derick Brassard and Matt Calvert.
In last night’s 2-1 win over the Dallas Stars at Nationwide Arena, Dubinsky played one of his strongest and most impactful games with Columbus. He logged 19:36 – second most among Blue Jackets forwards – with most of them coming in the third period and on the penalty kill.
And for a young Blue Jackets club that’s still seeking a complete, 60-minute performance, Dubinsky’s “winning time” minutes provide a prime example of what’s expected every single night.Read the full story by clicking inside this blog post.
The crowd at Nationwide Arena was on its feet for the last 30 seconds of tonight’s win against the Dallas Stars. They were standing because the Blue Jackets had successfully protected a 2-1 lead for more than half a period, and they only needed to fight for 30 seconds more to seal the deal.
According to head coach Todd Richards, those 30 seconds of desperation were his favorite part of the game.
“It was in our zone, and there were some moments I think where you’re on the edge of your seat, but it was the desperation in our game – guys diving and trying to get in the shooting lanes,” Richards said. “That’s what it takes.”
Unlike the complete 60 minutes the Blue Jackets put in against Chicago, this game reiterated the slow start that the team has had for a few games this season. The Blue Jackets only registered three shots in the first period despite three power play opportunities.
“The first period, we could create no momentum out of our power play," Richards said. "It was killing us because it sucked the life right out of us."Read the rest of this story by following along inside the blog post.
I figured the Dallas Stars would have a little extra jump tonight after Jamie Benn's immigration paperwork was cleared, and the big center was a "go" for his season debut. He's the Stars' best player and a huge part of their lineup, so I was expecting a tenacious start from the visitors.
And sure enough, they brought it. The Blue Jackets, on a four-game skid entering tonight, didn't start this game with the same vigor as they showed Saturday night against the Blackhawks but they steadily got better as the game grew older. For a change, they got to play the majority of the third period in the lead and used their team-checking approach to wear down the Stars and close out the win.
Kari Lehtonen was excellent and probably deserved a better fate, but I thought Sergei Bobrovsky was equally strong in the Columbus net. He was big in the first period when the Blue Jackets were a tad ragged, and dialed up the most crucial stop of the game on Michael Ryder in the third period.
Fedor Tyutin and Nikita Nikitin did some yeomen work on the penalty kill and at even strength, ensuring that the Blue Jackets spent very little time inside their own end. The breakouts were on-point, they kept the puck out of danger (for the most part) and Tyutin provided the nice set-up pass for Derek Dorsett's game-tying goal.
Read Rob's breakdown of tonight's CBJ victory inside this blog post.
This is a big one, folks.
It's not typically in Todd Richards' nature to declare a certain game a "must win," and he stopped just short of saying that after this morning's skate at Nationwide Arena. But given the circumstances with the Blue Jackets right now (a four-game winless skid) and the urgency to get things turned around quickly, Richards acknowledged that tonight's game is extremely important.
As a result, I expect the Blue Jackets to play with a little added urgency tonight. They played a sound game two nights ago against the Chicago Blackhawks but that's now in the rear-view mirror. Dallas is an entirely different opponent and one that got a big boost this afternoon with the immigration clearance of Jamie Benn, the Stars' No. 1 center and one of the league's burgeoning young stars.
Kari Lehtonen gets the start in goal for Dallas, and he's got some stellar career numbers against the Blue Jackets: 5-3-1 lifetime with a 1.78 goals-against average and .940 save percentage. Not bad...not bad at all.
Sergei Bobrovsky is the starting goalie tonight for the Blue Jackets.
Check out Rob's "three keys" to success inside this blog post.
The players took the ice this morning for about 25 minutes, and according to Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards, the “mood was good.”
Despite being handed their fourth loss of the season by the Chicago Blackhawks last Saturday, the Blue Jackets got back to their style of play and found some things to build on. Richards said he was pleased with the improvements he saw, including their transition game and creating more traffic in front of the net.
Still, there are a lot of things that need to be better, and that includes their struggling power play. Richards said it has been good, but not great, which for him isn't good enough.
“We have to do a better job getting pucks to the net, maybe a little quicker so our forwards have opportunities,” Richards said after the morning skate.
Currently, the Blue Jackets are ranked 24th in the league with the man advantage, scoring three power play goals out of 23 power play opportunities through five games. Richards said they spent the morning reviewing tape and talking about ways to improve the power play, which he says needs to have more flow.Read the full story on the Blue Jackets' power play adjustment inside this blog post.