7:00 A.M. -- BIG TILT TONIGHT: How's everyone doing this morning? Some kind of exciting day we had at Nationwide Arena yesterday with the Blue Jackets making headlines at the NHL trade deadline. Acquiring Marian Gaborik in a seven-piece deal from the New York Rangers, getting a backup goaltender from the Flyers in a trade for Steve Mason and adding forward depth with Blake Comeau from Calgary...it's safe to say John Davidson and Jarmo Kekalainen checked the items off their shopping list.
Gaborik was met in New York by Davidson yesterday and the two flew to Nashville via private plane to meet the team. The Slovak sniper is expected in the Blue Jackets lineup tonight at Bridgestone Arena and he'll be sporting his familiar No. 10, which was graciously yielded by Mark Letestu.
Before we get this blog really fired up today, let's re-live a pretty sweet moment from a few weeks back when the Jackets and Predators met in Columbus:
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Though it started slowly, trade deadline day in Columbus went from 0-to-60 in a matter of seconds.
Seeking a boost to their offense in the midst of a playoff push, the Blue Jackets made the biggest trade of the day in acquiring three-time 40-goal scorer Marian Gaborik from the New York Rangers about 15 minutes prior to the 3 p.m. ET deadline.
Gaborik, one of the NHL’s elite snipers, joins the Blue Jackets at a crucial time for the club and injects a dynamic force into their forward group. At 31, he’s a three-time NHL All-Star.
He has scored 91 career power play goals, 62 game-winning goals and seven shorthanded tallies with 14 hat tricks during his 12 NHL seasons. Columbus sent Derick Brassard, Derek Dorsett, John Moore and a sixth-round pick to the Rangers as part of the trade, and the Blue Jackets also acquired Blake Partlett and Steven Delisle in the deal.
“Throughout this process our focus was to add a player who could provide a boost to our offense, improve our goal scoring and power play and we identified Marian Gaborik as the player we wanted,” Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen said. “He has been an elite goal scorer in this league for many years and we are very excited to have him.”
The Blue Jackets are flying to pick up Gaborik this evening and Kekalainen said he expects him in the lineup tomorrow when the club plays a huge game against the Nashville Predators in the Music City.
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Mark Letestu joined the Blue Jackets in November of 2011 as a player seeking a new, fresh opportunity and hoped he would fit in with Columbus.
Seventeen months later, it’s safe to say he’s one of the players this management team wants to win with.
The versatile, jack-of-all-trades forward is going to be spending at least the next couple of seasons with the Blue Jackets in the city he and his growing family now call home. Letestu signed a two-year contract extension with the club today, and in doing so, removed the uncertainty that would have loomed with unrestricted free agency this summer.
Per Blue Jackets club policy, financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
But the open market wasn’t something that really appealed to Letestu, whose wife Brett is approaching her due date with the couple’s second child and who wants to put down the family roots in Ohio’s capital city.
And on the ice, Letestu has certainly fit in and played a variety of roles for Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards, who has come to trust the 28-year-old with important minutes in all situations. Letestu has racked up nine goals and 11 assists in 34 games this season, holds a strong +6 rating and has played 20-plus minutes in two of the last four games.
Read more on Letestu's re-signing inside this blog post.
Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards hinted that one item covered in the pre-game talk with his team would be "emptying the tanks" tonight against Anaheim.
Though there wasn't much left after a week-long four-game road trip through western Canada and back - and Richards said they were running on fumes in a frantic third period - but it's hard to ignore their collective resolve to stare down one of the NHL's top teams and find a way to win another crucial hockey game.
At the end of the night, the Blue Jackets had accumulated their 36th and 37th points of this truncated regular season (15-14-7) and grabbed sole possession of eighth place in the Western Conference standings. There's still much work to be done and the players will quickly remind you of that, but they've worked hard to get to this point and aren't ready to stop their climb up the ladder just yet.
The next few days will also be important. Columbus does not play another game until Thursday night in Nashville, leaving plenty of time this week for the standings to shift and alter. But regardless, the Blue Jackets are right in the thick of it and it's going to be a fire-wagon finish in the next four weeks.
These Blue Jackets are mighty familiar with the concept of bonus hockey and they've strung together quite the run on home ice. They've picked up points in 12 straight games at Nationwide Arena, and with tonight's win, wrapped up a 10-2-4 record in March.Get complete post-game analysis inside this blog post.
7:00 A.M. -- WELCOME HOME! Seems like it has been ages, but finally, the Blue Jackets are back on home ice today at Nationwide Arena. We've got a big game, too: the Anaheim Ducks are in town and are coming off a 2-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday. They're hungry, the Blue Jackets are hungry...and now I'm hungry because I'm thinking about where I'm headed for lunch.
This is the second of three meetings in the season series between the Ducks and Jackets, and Anaheim got the win in the first matchup back on Feb. 18 at Honda Center. Though Columbus didn't come out with the win, we did get this wonderful highlight courtesy of BOB's glove hand:
It's not a bad week to be Kenneth Agostino.
The Yale forward had his rights traded from the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Calgary Flames in Wednesday night's Jarome Iginla deal, and two days later, had one of the best games of his collegiate career as the Bulldogs (18-12-3) upset No. 2 Minnesota in the first round of the NCAA Men's Ice Hockey Championship.
The Gophers' surprising loss means the end of a championship run for a talented group that could be split up by decisions to turn pro, most notably Florida Panthers first-round pick Nick Bjugstad who has the option to head to AHL San Antonio. Blue Jackets prospects Mike Reilly (freshman) and Seth Ambroz (sophomore) are both expected to return to Minnesota next season and pursue a national championship -- and they'll have a good shot at it once again.
And as unlikely as the Bulldogs' win was this afternoon in Grand Rapids, if you're the Gophers, you have to tip your cap to your opponent that played a hard-working, determined game from the outset.
After a scoreless opening period, Agostino opened the scoring at 7:08 of the second period, and the lead become 2-0 at 15:28 on a big power-play tally from Gus Young.
But the Gophers wouldn't go quietly. Defenseman Nate Schmidt did his thing on the power play in the third period, getting Minnesota back in it with a man-advantage marker to make it a 2-1 hockey game. Zach Budish tied the game with a nifty re-direction of Kyle Rau's shot with 6:20 tp play and the momentum appeared to be all in Minnesota's favor, but Agostino quick setup to Jesse Root at the start of overtime ended the Gophers' comeback hopes.
Yale meets the winner of tonight's first-round game between North Dakota and Niagara tomorrow afternoon.
6:00 A.M. -- RIGHT BACK IN THE SADDLE(DOME): The best part about last night's game is that it is now last night's game. That might not make a whole lot of sense, but it really sounded cool when we typed it out. Anyway, what we're trying to say is the Blue Jackets have a chance to erase the disappointment of a 6-4 loss in Edmonton by getting two points in Calgary tonight.
Remember the last time these two teams got together? It was fun.
1:10 A.M. -- Tonight's game story in highlights:
12:08 A.M. -- END OF GAME. Jackets fall to the Oilers, 6-4. Stay tuned for post game analysis, and video interviews.
Hemsky gives the Oilers a 5-4 lead with 3:04 to play. Big stop by Dubnyk at the other end set it up. #CBJ— Rob Mixer (@RobMixer) March 29, 2013
11:51 P.M. -- WATCH: Mr. Quick-strike Cam Atkinson scores his second of the night just 27 seconds into the third:
11:38 P.M. -- LISTEN: Atkinson's second goal of the night.
11:34 P.M. -- Check out Artem Anisimov's second-period goal right here:
11:23 P.M. -- LISTEN: Anisimov's second period goal
11:14 P.M. -- SECOND PERIOD ANALYSIS: We're tied 3-3 after two periods in Edmonton but this one had an element of controversy injected into it. At 17:33 of the period, Mark Letestu cranked a slap shot from the right wing that Khabibulin had trouble handling, and Matt Calvert crashed the net - taking the rebound off the skate into the net as he was hauled to the ice by Ryan Whitney. The NHL's Situation Room deemed it a "distinct kicking motion," disallowing the goal after the play was ruled a goal on the ice. But the Blue Jackets came right back with a rocket shot from Artem Anisimov short-side less than a minute later, giving Columbus a 3-2 lead late in the period. And that wasn't all; the Oilers took advantage of Columbus being caught up-ice and Ryan Jones fed Nail Yakupov on a 2-on-1 at the right circle, but Yakupov passed it back into the slot for Shawn Horcoff to tap into a wide open net with less than a minute left in the second. That's where we stand headed to the third period.
10:56 P.M. -- BOBROVSKY! Check out this great toe save by Sergei Bobrovsky on Ryan Whitney in the first period:
Edmonton's turn to come out soaring. #CBJ spending a lot of shifts in their own end and Bob's under siege.— Rob Mixer (@RobMixer) March 29, 2013
10:35 P.M. -- Oilers tie it up. 2-2... (womp, womp)
10:27 P.M. -- WATCH: Matt Calvert's first period goal
10:27 P.M. -- WATCH: Cam Atkinson's franchise record tying goal -
10:15 P.M. -- FIRST PERIOD ANALYSIS: Seeking a better start than they had in Nashville and Vancouver, the Blue Jackets got it tonight in Edmonton. Cam Atkinson opened the scoring 10 seconds into the game off a tenacious forecheck and feed from Matt Calvert, sniping one five-hole on Khabibulin. The goal actually tied a franchise record for the fastest goal to start a game (Rick Nash 1/11/06 vs. Pittsburgh), but the Jackets weren't done there. This time, it was Calvert on the business end of a 2-on-1 feed from Atkinson and he snapped one over Khabibulin just past the midway point of the first to make it 2-0. The Oilers got a goal from Magnus Paajarvi later in the frame after the Blue Jackets got a bit ragged with the puck in their own end, but they carried a 2-1 into the first intermission.
10:13 P.M. -- Brothers battle together...
Shout out also to @jameswisniewski welcome back to the line up! We need you brother!— Brandon Dubinsky (@BDubi17) March 29, 2013
10:09 P.M. -- LISTEN to Calvert's first period goal:
10:01 P.M. -- 2-0, CBJ in the 1st.
Atkinson catches the Oilers defense napping and feathered a perfect saucer to Calvert. #CBJ's ninth shot of the first 12 minutes.— Rob Mixer (@RobMixer) March 29, 2013
9:55 P.M. -- BOB. (1-0, CBJ 1st Period)
And a big stop by Bobrovsky on Ryan Whitney, who got a sweet pass from Nugent-Hopkins upon joining the rush. #CBJ— Rob Mixer (@RobMixer) March 29, 2013
9:47 P.M. -- LISTEN to Cam Atkinson's franchise record tying goal:
9:41 P.M. --
#CBJ scratches-Foligno (INJ), Moore, Gillies. Starters-Bobrovsky. Tyutin-Wisniewski. Calvert-Anisimov-Atkinson.— Todd Sharrock (@ToddSharrock) March 29, 2013
9:17 P.M. -- LIFE ON THE ROAD
9:03 P.M. -- We know you want to be with us, but we hope that this helps a little...
8:56 P.M. -- It's home...for at least a night.
FOR YOUR ENTERTAINMENT...
8:02 P.M. -- Perfect view from the air(port)...
7:10 P.M. -- MORE VIDEOS: Get set for the game tonight with pre-game comments from Alberta-native Mark Letestu and head coach Todd Richards on Jackets TV below:
6:47 P.M. -- Stinger has something to say, er write...
6:20 P.M. -- GAME DAY PREVIEW: Assistant coach Dan Hinote joins Bob McElligott to give you an inside look at tonight's game on Game Day Preview on Jackets TV:
6:09 P.M. -- This week's CBJ Poll Question: Who has been the best young defenseman this season?
5:40 P.M. -- WIZ INTERVIEW: Bob McElligott caught up with James Wisniewski before his return to the lineup tonight in Edmonton. Check it out on Jackets TV below:
4:45 P.M. -- PROMO TEAM SPOTLIGHT!
Hey #CBJ fans, meet Heather from YOUR Kia Ice Crew: she's just like the rest of us, in that she's taken an embarrassingly brutal fall down the stairs.
3:50 P.M. -- PRESS RELEASE: James Wisniewski Activated off IR, and Brandon Dubinsky Placed on Retroactive IR. CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS
2:00 P.M. -- BOBROVSKY!
1:50 P.M. -- It sure looks as if the Blue Jackets will be getting this guy back in the lineup tonight....
1:40 P.M. -- Per multiple reports, Nikolai Khabibulin is the Oilers' starting goaltender tonight.
1:30 P.M. -- The Blue Jackets morning skate is under way at Rexall Place. Today's first update: Nick Foligno, who took a hard hit early in Tuesday's game in Vancouver, is not skating this morning per Aaron Portzline of the Dispatch. It appears unlikely that he will play tonight vs. the Oilers.
#CBJ LW Nick Foligno not skating this morning. Sean Collins taking his place w R.J. Umberger and Ryan Johansen.— Aaron Portzline (@Aportzline) March 28, 2013
11:58 A.M. -- THIS JUST IN: Columbus Blue Jackets Will Celebrate Military Appreciation Night on Sunday, April 7. CLICK FOR DETAILS
11:46 A.M. -- Download and save our Game Day poster!
11:04 A.M. -- Yesterday we asked on Twitter for people to submit photos of creative ways to spell out "BOB." Here are some of the pics that we received:
11:50 A.M. -- Read tonight's game day preview from @RobMixer RIGHT HERE
10:45 A.M. -- PIVITOL GAME IN EDMONTON: Good morning, Jackets fans from all around the world! As we fight for a playoff spot, a win tonight could put us a point out of 8th place. We have a lot to cover... check with us all day for videos, pictures, and commentary as we get you set for tonight's matchup at 9:30PM ET!