12:15 P.M. -- HERE WE GO: Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to another CBJ game day blog from the road. The Blue Jackets are in Chicago and about to get their morning skate under way at the Madhouse on Madison, more formally known as United Center.
Tonight's game - which begins at 8:30 p.m. - is the third of four meetings between the Blackhawks and Blue Jackets this season, and the previous two were both one-goal decisions. Chicago won a 3-2 game at Nationwide Arena back on Jan. 26, and took a 1-0 victory on home ice less than a week ago.
Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said he expects Artem Anisimov back in the lineup tonight, and other injured players (Dubinsky, Brassard, Johnson) are about a week or so away from returning.
Stay tuned to the game day blog for all the latest news, lineup notes and player interviews from today's morning skate!
It's pretty incredible to think that, less than a week removed from a scary incident in Detroit, Artem Anisimov is gearing up for a return to the lineup.
That's the news today as he returned to practice at the OhioHealth Ice Haus sporting a regular sweater, taking a regular shift between Matt Calvert and Cam Atkinson, and going through standard preparation for tomorrow's game against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Anisimov had been doing light skating and off-ice workouts over the last few days and felt ready to get back on the ice with the team, coach Todd Richards said. The expectation is that Anisimov will play in Chicago and he's on the flight to the Windy City with the club.
The 24-year-old Russian center was involved in a collision with Red Wings defenseman Kyle Quincey behind the net, taking a blow to the head before falling to the ice. He was taken off the ice on a stretcher and spent the night in a Detroit hospital before returning to Columbus last weekend.
Following an intense, hour-long practice this morning that was as demanding physically as it was mentally, Richards said Anisimov looked good and considered him on the verge of returning.Read the full story on Anisimov's return inside this blog post.
COLUMBUS -- When it rains, it pours. And right now, the Blue Jackets could use a poncho.
After losing Jack Johnson, Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov to injuries in the games prior, the Blue Jackets saw another key member of their lineup sidelined today. The club placed James Wisniewski on injured reserve two days after blocking a shot against the Blackhawks that resulted in a broken bone in his foot, and he's expected to miss 4-6 weeks as a result of the injury.
Cody Goloubef was recalled from the Springfield Falcons to help fill in on the blue line, and the possibility of another call-up looms. The Blue Jackets currently have six healthy defensemen on the roster and the heavy minutes left by Wisniewski's absence were spread out among the group last night.
As crazy as it sounds, Wisniewski was injured in the first period of Sunday's game in Chicago and managed to stay in the game. He played 26:55 in the 1-0 loss and saw a lot of time on the power play. Wisniewski has three goals and six assists in 15 games this season, and leads Columbus with three power play goals, ranks third in ice time (23:32/game) and is fifth on the club in points. He had picked up a point in eight of his last nine games prior to suffering the injury.
Columbus center Derick Brassard suffered an upper body injury in last night's 5-4 overtime loss to Dallas, and there was no immediate update available on his status.
Haven't seen a game quite like that this year, have we?
The Dallas Stars have a way with wacky, unpredictable games and they were involved in a similar one just 24 hours ago in Nashville. The Stars and Predators traded multiple goals in the second period, were tied up late and went to overtime...where the visiting team took advantage of a mistake and wound up winning in overtime.
Ironically enough, that's pretty much exactly what happened tonight at Nationwide Arena.
Columbus never led in this game, but managed to battle back from four one-goal deficits throughout the contest and scratch out a point. Todd Richards and his players talked about it after the game: mental mistakes and breakdowns came back to bite them in this game, and they let a resilient Stars club hang around.
The Blue Jackets also got more bad news on the injury front: Derick Brassard left the game with an upper-body injury in the second period and didn't return. Taking the lay of the land: Columbus is now missing its top three centers (Dubinsky, Anisimov, Brassard) and two top-four defensemen (Wisniewski, Johnson) to injuries.Get full post-game analysis inside this blog post.
Two clubs under siege by the injury bug are hours away from doing battle at Nationwide Arena.
The Dallas Stars, without their No. 1 goaltender and a handful of key players (namely defensemen), come into tonight's game against the Blue Jackets after a 5-4 overtime loss last night in Nashville. It was a bad-luck loss, too; Jaromir Jagr broke his stick in the offensive zone and headed to the bench to get a replacement, but before he could rejoin the play, Sergei Kostitsyn found Roman Josi at the left point for the game-winning goal less than 30 seconds into the sudden death period.
Christopher Nilstorp, a 29-year-old rookie goaltender from Sweden, made the start in goal for Dallas last night and is expected to give way to Richard Bachman tonight in Columbus. Lehtonen took part in the Stars' morning skate, but according to Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News, Lehtonen said he's not yet fit to play and is targeting a return on Thursday.
As for the Blue Jackets, well, their injury news isn't good. James Wisniewski suffered a broken bone in his foot during Sunday's game in Chicago and is looking at an "extended period" of time out the lineup. Jack Johnson, who was injured the night before in St. Louis, is looking at a week more of recovery time for his upper body injury.Read the full story and "three keys" inside this blog post.
GET IT STARTED: We're back after a loooooong road trip that spanned 13 days and covered six games. I'm still getting used to my usual seat here in section 103 of Nationwide Arena, prepping for the Blue Jackets morning skate that's set to get started here in about 20 minutes.
Tonight's game vs. the Dallas Stars begins a home-heavy stretch of the 2013 schedule. The Blue Jackets travel to Chicago for a Friday night showdown with the Blackhawks after this, but following that game, they'll play nine of the next 10 games here on home ice. The lone road game is part of a home-and-home, back-to-back set with the Detroit Red Wings on Mar. 9-10.
So, here's where we stand: the Stars a bit beaten up due to injuries but they're still playing solid hockey. They may get goaltender Kari Lehtonen back tonight, but that decision likely won't be made until after they skate today.
For the latest news, player interviews and photos from today's morning skate and beyond, be sure to keep it locked to this blog.
Not much going on today in Blue Jackets land, but there's a lot to reflect on after what was a busy and fun week -- and yes, by "fun" I'm referring to that memorable 3-2 win over the Red Wings in Detroit.
Last night's game has been extensively covered both here and here, but one final note before we move on to tomorrow against Dallas: the Blue Jackets are becoming rather dependable in the face-off circle, and once more last night, won the majority of draws with a 52 percent success rate over the Blackhawks. In doing so, they're going to have the puck more and allow for more possession time, which are keys to generating offense.
Mark Letestu was an impressive 10-for-12 in the circle, while Nick Drazenovic was 5-for-8 on the night. The game before he was sent to Springfield, Ryan Johansen was 8-for-9 and was going at a pretty good clip in the early part of the season.
BANGED UP IN BIG "D"
The Stars begin a back-to-back set tonight in Nashville and are experiencing a serious bout of injuries, beginning with goaltender Kari Lehtonen who has been on the shelf for over a week. Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News said Lehtonen is questionable for Tuesday in Columbus, but he's just the start of a long list.
Down to only a smattering of healthy defensemen, the Stars had to reach deeper into the AHL pipeline and recall Carl Sneep from Texas on Sunday. Mark Stepneski of Stars Inside Edge reported that Trevor Daley, out the past two games with a neck injury, is expected to play tonight in Nashville but former Blue Jackets defenseman Aaron Rome will not.Read the full story on CBJ Today inside this blog post.
The Blue Jackets will watch the tape of tonight's game and kick themselves over the number of missed opportunities, many of them handed to them by the Chicago Blackhawks.
On the second night of back-to-backs, the visitors didn't lack energy and got a gallant effort from goaltender Steve Mason, who made 26 saves including two breakaway dandies on Marian Hossa. But despite the power play chances and quality looks in the third period, the Blue Jackets could not get one past Corey Crawford, who was making his first start in six games.
Columbus played an uptempo, physical game tonight and did well to slow down the Blackhawks' top guns, many of whom had been rolling along at quite impressive paces. The same could be said for the entire Chicago club, which extended its NHL-record unbeaten (in regulation) streak to open the season, with their record now sitting at 15-0-3.
One note before we break the game down: Ryan Johansen, recalled this morning from Springfield, played nearly 16 minutes and centered Matt Calvertand Nick Foligno, a line that was very good in Detroit before and after Artem Anisimov's scary injury. Johansen also had four shots on goal in the game, and got a couple of quick shots at Crawford in the third period.Get tonight's post-game analysis inside this blog post.
8:35 P.M. -- SECOND PERIOD ANALYSIS: Andrew Shaw scored the game's only goal with 1:27 left in the second period, and that's where we stand after 40 minutes at the United Center. Shots on goal favor Chicago (21-20) but the Blue Jackets have had some chances of their own. Steve Mason has been the story of the game, already with three big-time stops on Marian Hossa and a handful of others as the Blackhawks swarmed on the power play. Shaw's goal, which was scored just after matching minors to Jared Boll and Michal Roszival expired, came with the Blue Jackets on a lengthy shift inside their own end. At even strength, the Blue Jackets have done exceptional work on the Blackhawks' top players and they haven't had much going off the rush. That will need to continue if the Blue Jackets are going to tie this thing up - and hopefully take the lead - in the third period.
7:40 P.M. -- FIRST PERIOD ANALYSIS: A solid road period for the Blue Jackets, who did some of their best work on the penalty kill. The Blackhawks' power play was 13th in the league coming into tonight's game, but the Blue Jackets kept them off the board (and for the most part, out of the offensive zone) on both opportunities. Shots on goal checked in at seven per team in the opening 20 minutes, and the Blue Jackets probably had two of the better scoring chances. The Brassard line was good in the first and created some offense off the rush, and the power play had a few looks as well. As this game goes on, you get the sense that special teams will become a factor because of how aggressive both teams like to play.
LET'S GET IT STARTED: Here we go! We're about set for puck drop between the Blue Jackets and Blackhawks from the United Center in Chicago.
Here's tonight's Blue Jackets lineup:
Umberger - Brassard - Atkinson
Calvert - Johansen - Foligno
Prospal - Drazenovic - Dorsett
Letestu - MacKenzie - Boll
Tyutin - Nikitin
Moore - Wisniewski
Erixon - Aucoin
Despite the end result tonight, it's hard not to feel as if the Blue Jackets have found "their game." But like Todd Richards said post-game, at some point, they need to start getting results from their strong efforts.
This also felt very much like a playoff game tonight inside Scottrade Center -- and it was similar to Thursday's win in Detroit. The Blue Jackets have found ways to establish their forecheck, spend a healthy amount of time inside their opponents' end of the rink, and finish some of the chances they work hard to create. That was evident in Detroit, but tonight against a Blues club eager to end a woeful losing skid on home ice, it was not.
The lone offensive highlight was a true highlight: Matt Calvert's shorthanded equalizer late in the second period was one of the better individual efforts of the year, and it came at a time when the Blue Jackets needed to get some pay-off. James Wisniewski's lead pass was just as sweet, and Calvert's one-handed finish was a thing of beauty...but unfortunately, that was about it for Columbus tonight.
Sergei Bobrovsky played well, and it looks as if Richards is going to try and give him the bulk of the workload as things progress. There's a chance Steve Mason plays tomorrow on the tail end of the back-to-back set, but nothing is set in stone.
Check out full analysis of tonight's game inside this blog post.