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.
The team's "identity" was the buzzword around the locker room this morning. Ever since they returned to Nationwide Arena this season, several of the Blue Jackets along with coach Todd Richards have talked about their identity being a hard-working, grind-it-out team that never gives up.
Now, they have to prove it. Despite losing to the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday, they exhibited a solid effort from start to finish that may have been their most consistent game of the season. They have a chance to rebound and continue along the path of improvement tonight against the Dallas Stars.
Richards said tonight’s game will be “huge,” and the result will be a testament to the direction the team is headed in.
“Our motivation has to be every single night – this is what we have to do, this is our identity,” Richards said after the morning skate today.
There are very few off-days in the NHL, especially in a shortened season when four games a week is the norm, and the Blue Jackets will need to find a way to build off the good things displayed against the Blackhawks if they want to get back on the winning track in short order.Read the full story from today's skate inside this blog post.
Good morning and happy game day, everyone. I'm here inside a warm and cozy Nationwide Arena (at least it'll be warm until I go down to the ice) and ready to rock with the latest game day blog.
The Dallas Stars are in town tonight to face the Blue Jackets, and they've got a mixed bag of results in the early stages of the season. Dallas is 2-2-1 in its first five games and has lost two straight, and tonight marks the start of a back-to-back set on the road. The Stars hit the road (in an airplane, but you catch my drift) to Detroit immediately after tonight's game and will take on the Red Wings on Tuesday at The Joe.
This should be an entertaining game. I've had the chance to watch the Stars play a few games this year and they can skate, move the puck, and there's a ton of skill at forward. That Kari Lehtonen guy isn't bad between the pipes, either; he's only 5-3-1 with a career 1.78 GAA and .940 save percentage. Here's hoping the Blue Jackets can put a dent in that stellar track record tonight.
The morning skate is under way, so check inside this blog post for all the latest news and updates as they happen!
Alright, let's put the finishing touches on this puppy.
The Blue Jackets and Blackhawks played a game tonight that started dull, hit a crescendo with a controversial disallowed goal in the second period, and culminated in a thrilling last-minute push by the home side. In the end, Chicago skated away with its fifth straight win to open this abbreviated NHL season, and the Blue Jackets are now winless in their last four.
Let's not dwell on the negatives, though, especially considering the Blue Jackets put together a solid team game against one of the most talented clubs in the business. They did pretty much everything they needed to get the two points, but the final consequences will be debated for quite a while (just not in this blog).
Steve Mason made 21 saves and was very good, including a pair of big-time glove stops on Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp that happened to come at pivotal junctures of the game. The ice tilted back and forth on a number of occasions and neither team really grabbed momentum, and it made for an entertaining third period with Chicago hanging on to a one-goal lead.
Was this the Blue Jackets' best performance of the season? I'd lean that way, but the collective gusto they showed in the latter stages against Nashville was also impressive. They checked Chicago's top players hard, make them work for their space and played a physical brand of hockey that didn't put a smile on the visitors' faces. That's what you want from this team.
Read tonight's "Aftermath" inside this blog post.
Todd Richards was very candid this morning when discussing tonight's game against the Chicago Blackhawks: he said it's no secret the opponent is in top form right now, and it's going to be a challenge for the Blue Jackets to emerge with a victory.
That being said, he's not approaching the game as if it's David vs. Goliath or something mythical, but making sure all areas of concern are addressed prior to the game. For starters (no pun intended), Richards wants his club to start the game "on time" and avoid the mental lapses suffered in Nashville and Colorado, where they gave up goals on essentially the first shift.
Columbus has to begin tonight's game on its toes against a Blackhawks squad that's in high gear, or else they could get in hot water quickly. In four games this season, Chicago has scored 17 goals and has won games both from the lead and by rallying late -- including a stunner earlier this week in Dallas. Everything is in play and the Blue Jackets know this opponent very well, so there should be no surprises when it comes to game preparation this evening.
Steve Mason starts in goal for the Blue Jackets, and he faces Corey Crawford in net for Chicago.
Check out tonight's "three keys" to success inside this blog post.
As the Blue Jackets prepare to host the undefeated Chicago Blackhawks at Nationwide Arena tonight for the second home game of the season, one thing is clear: they have to be better at both ends of the ice.
“We've got to make it difficult on these guys, and it’s got to start on the first shift," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said this morning. "We can’t stick our toes in the water and see if it’s cold.
"When this thing starts, we have to jump in."
The Blue Jackets have given up a goal on the first shift in two of their four games, and Richards said tonight’s game will be a challenge to tighten things up defensively while generating offense against a team that has scored 17 goals in its first four games.
Scoring against the Blackhawks won’t be easy, however, and the Blue Jackets are going to have to be a little more than scrappy in front of Blackhawks’ goaltender Corey Crawford if they want to win the hockey game.Read the full story on "net presence" inside this blog post.
The Blackhawks are coming off a come-from-behind overtime win against the Dallas Stars earlier in the week, and as of today, they hold a perfect 4-0-0 record and sit atop the division and the conference. Patrick Kane is on a tear to start the season, and most of the points are coming from setting up Marian Hossa's goals.
Kane has put up seven points in the first four games and Hossa has five goals, including the overtime winner in Dallas (off a gorgeous behind-the-back pass from Kane). Those two are really in-sync right now, and it's a challenge for any team to contain them.
Keep up with all of the news on game day -- including lineups, tonight's starting goaltenders, interviews with the coach and players, and a whole lot more. Follow along inside this blog post.
The Blue Jackets want to be a speedy, in-your-face team that is opportunistic with scoring chances and its opponents’ mistakes. When the puck drops tonight at Nationwide Arena, they will be facing the gold standard in that department.
After a long stretch of futility in the Central Division, the Chicago Blackhawks redefined themselves in the late 2000s and stockpiled a plethora of skilled players with high draft picks. They made calculated trades and free-agent signings to balance out their roster -- all geared toward massaging an identity that still befits them today.
They are one of the quickest teams in the NHL and can change the game in the blink of an eye. All four lines can get involved in the offense, and their young players drive the bus. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews were the building blocks, and Chicago added players like Patrick Sharp (trade) and Marian Hossa (free agency) to mix finishers with table-setters.
Columbus is very familiar with this Blackhawks squad, and they have been involved in several memorable games over the years. The Blue Jackets clinched their first-ever playoff berth at the United Center in 2009, shaking off 2-0 and 3-2 deficits to tie the game and eventually win in a shootout – and that was one of the tamer get-togethers between these division rivals.
Read the rest of this story inside the blog post.