Well, this ought to be fun.
Completed by today's seal of approval from the NHL's Board of Governors, a new league realignment plan will be implemented immediately. The Blue Jackets are headed to the Eastern Conference next season and join a brand new division that's sure to be both convenient and exciting. I'm all for it, and, for us here in Columbus, it's huge.
Let me rephrase: huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge.
Think about it: road trips are significantly reduced, you can pretty much wave "bye bye" to this 10 p.m. and later start times out on the west coast, and those two-week gaps between home games at Nationwide Arena? See ya later, alligator.
If my name is "the 7 p.m. time slot," I'm going into marathon-training mode the way I'm going to get used over the next few years and beyond. That coffee maker you tend to fire up when the Blue Jackets are out west? Let him rest after dinner time -- you won't be needing him.
After this season is complete, it's going to be like moving into a new neighborhood. Over the next few months, take your time in awkwardly looking around and checking out what car the guy who lives two doors down is driving and try to get accustomed to that annoying dog in the backyard behind you.
You'll soon find out who mows their lawn on a normal schedule, and who prefers to let it grow out and masquerade their mailbox. Whose kids are flat-out obnoxious, and whose would you welcome into your home and look the other way if they slammed handfuls of Oreos? In a roundabout way, this is NHL realignment: sure, the Blue Jackets aren't entering an entirely new world but the surroundings are going to be fresh.Read the rest of Rob's take on NHL realignment inside this blog post.
9:00 A.M. -- LET'S GO JACKETS: Alright CBJ fans, we've got one last crack at the Chicago Blackhawks and that takes place tonight at Nationwide Arena. The previous three matchups in the season series have all been decided by one goal, the last being a 4-3 overtime win by the Blackhawks at United Center on Mar. 1.
Here's what we know so far: the Blackhawks are planning to start Corey Crawford in goal tonight against the Blue Jackets, and his last appearance against Columbus was a 1-0 shutout win on Feb. 24. The Blue Jackets need to get more pucks on Crawford than they did in that game, and based on their performances in the past seven games, they've adopted that mentality ten-fold.
As for the Blue Jackets, we don't yet know who will be starting in goal -- but in order to find out first, you'll want to keep it locked right here on the game day blog. If it happens at the Blue Jackets morning skate, we'll post it here first.
We'll try and keep this one short and sweet.
The Blue Jackets, while disappointed in seeing their five-game winning streak come to an end tonight at Nationwide Arena, were willing to take some positives out of the 2-1 shootout loss to Vancouver. They got a point, yes, and despite not playing their best hockey for the first 40 minutes, managed to get something out of it.
Pending results of later games still going on around the NHL, the Blue Jackets could be anywhere between three and five points below the playoff bar with 21 games to play. Is it impossible? Certainly not, especially given the way they're playing lately.
Tonight wasn't so much a speed bump as it was a minor pothole -- nothing to deter them from moving forward and something that can be repaired with a little effort. Sergei Bobrovsky was strong once again, making 37 saves and improving his record to 6-1-2 in his last nine appearances. You could make the case that he's been the backbone of this recent run by Columbus, and you'd be hard-pressed to find someone in disagreement.Get complete post-game analysis from tonight's game inside this blog post.
9:30 A.M. -- WELCOME BACK: What a weekend! The Blue Jackets, as you're well aware, are riding a five-game winning streak coming into tonight's game against the Vancouver Canucks at Nationwide Arena. It should be a good one, too; these two teams met less than a week ago on this same ice surface and it was a hard-fought game that needed overtime to decide. For the Blue Jackets, it was Matt Calvert making it happen in scoring the game winner on a terrific individual effort.
After you're done re-living that goal through the posted highlights above, we'll continue.
Ready...? Ok, let's go.
The quest for six straight wins starts now, and if the Blue Jackets are able to pick up a win tonight, it would tie a franchise record. As we sit right now, the team is four points back of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, and this race is only getting started.
We'll be heading down to the Blue Jackets' morning skate in just a few minutes, so stay tuned to the game day blog for line combinations, starting goalies, and a lot more as the day moves along.
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- In trade discussions with the Winnipeg Jets that were finalized today, the Blue Jackets saw an opportunity to give two young players a new look and fresh surroundings to help jump-start their careers.
Spencer Machacek (pronounced MUH-HAW-CHECK), 24, comes to the Blue Jackets organization in exchage for Tomas Kubalik as part of today's trade that hopefully benefits both sides, assistant GM Chris MacFarland told BlueJackets.com this afternoon.
Machacek was a third-round draft pick (67th overall) of the Winnipeg franchise when they were known as the Atlanta Thrashers, and came highly-regarded for his work ethic and "sandpaper" style of game. He's been a strong performer at the American Hockey League level, accumulating 93-132-225 in 341 career AHL games, including 11-14-25 in 57 appearances with the St. John’s IceCaps this season.
The Blue Jackets hope Machacek fits right in and helps the Springfield Falcons in moving along at their torrid pace. Springfield holds a record of 36-16-7 through 57 games, tops in the Northeast Division and just four point back of Syracuse for top spot in the Eastern Conference.Read the full story on Machacek joining the Blue Jackets inside this blog post.
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- It wasn't necessarily easy or pretty, but Shaker Heights found a way to get it done. And there are no awards for style points in hockey.
A dozen years ago, the Red Raiders boys hockey program won its last state title when several of its current players were barely old enough to walk and talk. Their last appearance in the state final was eight years ago and head coach Mike Bartley's team made sure its next trip to Columbus would be worthwhile.
The Red Raiders won their fourth state title in school history with a 3-1 win over Sylvania Northview in front of 2,348 at Nationwide Arena, and it was a game that hung in the balance until the final horn.
Not only did Shaker Heights have to earn its way to the OHSAA state championship game by battling out a semifinal win over Rocky River on Friday afternoon, but they gutted out an impressive victory in the final over a very strong Sylvania Northview team that had stunned Columbus' entry (Olentangy Liberty) the day before.
Senior goaltender Eric Sterin kept the Red Raiders afloat as the Wildcats kept coming in the third period, trying to put a dent in a two-goal load that Shaker Heights obtained early in the final period -- on a goal that almost didn't count. Sterin stood tall as the Wildcats got a late 5-on-3 opportunity and essentially tossed the kitchen sink his way, but the netminder was rock solid for the Red Raiders.
His biggest moment might have been a clutch stop on Sylvania's Caleb Rau, who pounced on a turnover at the offensive blueline and had a breakaway with 2:50 remaining in regulation. Sterin stayed patient and square, kicking out Rau's wrister that would have pulled the Wildcats within a goal with plenty of time left.
Sterin finished with 25 saves on the evening.
Shaker Heights got the championship-deciding goal late in the first period from senior forward John Longman, who was excellent for the Red Raiders throughout the final weekend.
While this was not the end result that defending champion Northview was looking for, the Wildcats made their 15th appearance in the state semifinal tournament and played for their third championship in the last seven years. A team that replaced 10 players from last year's championship club, Northview played solid hockey and came together at the right time, coming up one win shy of repeating.
Looking through the stats, I was almost stunned to discover that today's 3-0 win was the first shutout of Sergei Bobrovsky's career.
In his 99th NHL start, the 24-year-old Russian goaltender earned his first "donut," making 29 saves against the Detroit Red Wings and acting as the foundation behind the Blue Jackets' four-game winning streak. Not only has he given the Blue Jackets a chance to win every night, the team in front of him has played a sturdy brand of hockey that's translating to points in the standings -- and once again, Columbus is within four points of the playoff bar.
And with today's 3-0 win, the Blue Jackets won the season series against Detroit for the first time in the franchise's 12-year history. Through four games of five (one to go tomorrow afternoon at Joe Louis Arena), Columbus holds a 3-0-1 record and has a chance to go without a regulation loss to the Red Wings with a win in the finale.
The Red Wings made a ton of mistakes - and uncharacteristically so given their strong play of late entering the game - and fed right into the Blue Jackets' speed and forechecking game. Case and point: Matt Calvert swooping in and stealing the puck from Niklas Kronwall, which led to Cam Atkinson's game-winner in the first period. That's not a play that Kronwall usually makes, and it was a blatant giveaway - credit to the Blue Jackets for making Detroit pay for its recklessness with the puck.Get complete post-game analysis of today's 3-0 win inside this blog post.
No matter how far a team has come and how many wins it has accumulated along the way, the last one is always the most difficult.
All that remains is one game for the Ohio High School Athletic Association's 66th boys hockey tournament championship, and it will take place Saturday evening at Nationwide Arena. Shaker Heights and Sylvania Northview advanced to the championship game after an day of exciting semifinal action that featured several lead changes, momentum swings and a thrilling comeback in the second match-up.
For both sides, it was a difficult day that included several obstacles on their way to the final dance. Shaker Heights rallied from two one-goal deficits (1-0 and 2-1) before taking over the game early in the third period, obtaining its first lead of the day at 6:30 of the third period on a clutch goal from Jacob Shick.
John Longman added an insurance tally with 1:01 remaining in regulation for the 4-2 final.
In the second semifinal, local club Olentangy Liberty was bidding to become the first Columbus-area school to ever play in the championship game, and they got off on the right foot.
The Patriots scored the first two goals of the hockey game and looked to be in good stead, but Sylvania Northview put its collective rally caps on. From 2-0 down, Northview completed the comeback five minutes into the third period and scored an empty-netter with less than a second to play, sealing a 4-2 victory and a berth in the final.
Saturday's championship game will take place after the Blue Jackets play the Detroit Red Wings at Nationwide Arena, and face-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. The game will air tape delayed on SportsTime Ohio on Sunday, Mar. 10 at 4 p.m.
Blue Jackets broadcaster Bob McElligott will have the play-by-call game for the contest with John Mowat providing color analysis.