Good morning and happy game day, everyone! The Blue Jackets, fresh off an exciting 4-2 win here at Nationwide Arena on Saturday night, are back on home ice tonight against the Los Angeles Kings. These two clubs were locked in some emotional games last year, especially after Jack Johnson joined the Blue Jackets in a trade with the Kings.
Johnson scored the game winner in his first game against his former team, and you can check out the video at the top of the page.
The Kings, as you'll recall, caught fire in the second half of the season under coach Darryl Sutter and went on to win the Stanley Cup. They return largely the same team that won the Cup, but due to some injuries on defense and starting the year without Anze Kopitar, the Kings have struggled to a 2-3-2 mark out of the gate.
On the other hand, Columbus played one of its best games of the season against the Red Wings, establishing a tenacious forecheck and making Detroit pay for its mistakes.
We'll have all the latest news, updates and player interviews from today's morning skate which begins in about 25 minutes. Be sure to check back here often (or just keep refreshing the page, which is way easier) to get the latest from Nationwide Arena.
The 25-year-old native of St. Albert, Alberta was an undrafted free agent who caught the Blue Jackets' attention as a sturdy rearguard for the WHL's Chilliwack Bruins, and in the spring of 2008, GM Scott Howson made sure to get Holden under contract. Already boasting ideal NHL size (6-foot-4, approximately 200 pounds) and strength on his skates, Holden was an effective two-way defenseman who increased his point total in every year of his career.
He had a solid debut season with the Syracuse Crunch in 2008-09 and followed it up with an even stronger campaign in 2009-10. Holden showed the ability to take on more minutes and more responsibility, which earned him a call-up to the NHL in October 2010. The Blue Jackets had some injuries on the blueline and Holden stepped right in, logging 24:36 in a shootout win over the Edmonton Oilers less than two weeks after his recall.
Not only did he not look out of place, Holden looked like he belonged. But once the Blue Jackets got healthy, he went back to the AHL and continued to work. Under similarly unfortunate circumstances, Holden is now back in the NHL and ready to fill the void left by several injured defensemen.
Read the rest of this story by clicking inside the blog post.
We talked this morning about the Blue Jackets needing an "all hands on deck" kind of effort tonight against the Detroit Red Wings. Safe to say they got it.
Their only real stumble was a defensive breakdown on Johan Franzen's first-period goal, but other than that, they kept a tidy house and made sure the Red Wings didn't have much space to make plays. Their game plan was executed fairly well: get the puck in deep behind their defense, finish checks, and make the Red Wings come the length of the ice.
Steve Mason was the second star of the game in an official capacity, but he kept the ship afloat with some big stops in the second period. He made 32 on the night and deserved to earn his first victory of the season. And if there's one thing that has not ailed the Blue Jackets this year, it's play between the pipes.
Perhaps most encouraging for coach Todd Richards is the way his team kept pushing, even after opening a two-goal lead late in the second period. They got a handful of chances in the closing minutes of the middle stanza and nearly made it 4-1 before time ran out, but entered the third period with (yes, you're reading this correctly) a two-goal lead in front of a rocking crowd at Nationwide Arena.
Read the complete breakdown of tonight's game inside this blog post.
Todd Richards liked a lot of what the Blue Jackets did in their last meeting with the Detroit Red Wings.
It was opening night at Nationwide Arena in front of a sold-out crowd (and they expect the same tonight), and the Blue Jackets fought back from 2-0 down to take a third-period lead. The place was rocking, there was an abundance of energy up and down the lineup, and Columbus got saves at the right time from goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.
Similar story lines are in play tonight as the Blue Jackets look to get a little payback for that shootout loss on Jan. 21, and in the process, bounce back from a disappointing first-period effort on Thursday vs. St. Louis and get back in the win column. Richards is going with Steve Mason between the pipes after he pitched a shutout in relief of Bobrovsky on Thursday, and he's got some history on his side; the Red Wings seem to bring the best out of Mason and he's played well against them in his career.
The Red Wings, once again, go with Jimmy Howard in net. He has started each of Detroit's games this season and has been a big part of their recent run. They're coming off a 5-3 win over the Blues last night at Joe Louis Arena and have been playing terrific hockey of late.
Read the full story to get tonight's "three keys" to success against Detroit.
Tim Erixon might have been the new guy in Columbus, but in a way, he felt right at home.
He was at home in Skelleftea, Sweden on a gorgeous European summer day and in the midst of offseason training when he got a phone call. The next chapter of his career was upon him, and he was now a member of the Blue Jackets and part of the Rick Nash mega deal that brought two New York Rangers teammates with him.
Six weeks later, he packed his bags and caught a flight to Ohio for the first time. The season was a month away from starting, but he was going to room with Ryan Johansen down in the Arena District and get some early skates in with his new teammates. Living in Columbus and getting acclimated to the new surroundings was a helpful experience for Erixon, and instrumental in making the transition to a new team and city far less stressful.
"That was so helpful for me, being the new guy and all," Erixon told BlueJackets.com. "I’ve come up and now I know a bunch of the guys from spending time here in the summer and skating a little bit at the rink. I know Joey, and I’ve been living with that guy both in Columbus and Springfield. He’s a great guy and it’s been a good experience.
"The training camp was helpful, too, because everyone gets to know each other and you get to see how everything works here. That was perfect; it was a lot of fun and I enjoyed it."Read the rest of this story by clicking inside the blog post.
It's only been about 48 hours since we last convened here, but good morning and a very happy game day to you all. There are few things as comforting as the smell of fresh ice being cut at Nationwide Arena, and that's what I'm taking in here just before the Blue Jackets hit the ice for their fifth morning skate of the year in this building.
Since we last met, the Blue Jackets dropped a 4-1 decision at home to the Blues and got behind 3-0 just 13 minutes into the game. Sergei Bobrovsky was pulled for the first time this season, but Steve Mason stepped in and put forth a perfect effort in relief. Where that leaves the goaltending decision for tonight is anyone's guess, but I surmise we will know more here in the next hour or so.
The BlueJackets.com game day blog is your one-stop shop for all the latest lineup news, goalie info, photos, and player interviews as the morning skate unfolds. It's probably a good idea to keep it locked right here!
The Blue Jackets' first-period struggles are akin to someone preparing to go skydiving: there’s no such thing as partially skydiving, and the only way to do it successfully is embrace the experience and jump in with both feet.
On too many occasions in the first eight games, the Blue Jackets have seemed uneasy or timid in the first period – and it has cost them dearly. They have given up the first goal in six of those games and have had to overcome two-goal deficits or greater on five occasions, which puts tremendous pressure on the defense and goaltending to be on-point and not allow games to get out of hand.
But once the Blue Jackets have jumped out of that airplane, so to speak, they’ve played well and committed to their style of hockey. The issue now, coach Todd Richards said, is getting the commitment and conviction to start games “on time” and on their toes.
“I think everybody has their own way of getting into it,” Richards said. “When I played, I always wanted to get a hit on the first shift. I felt it got me into the game and gave me a focus. I don’t know what’s going on inside our players’ heads as far as what their goals or objectives are to get themselves into the game.
“As coaches, we try to prepare them and we can certainly try to motivate them, but that comes down to the players preparing themselves. They’re professionals and that’s what they have to do.”
Read the rest of this story by clicking inside the blog post.
The players talked earlier in the week about "starting the game on time" and making sure they're ready to go as soon as the puck drops. Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards talked post-game about how, when he was a player, throwing a hit or taking a hit early in games made him feel emotionally engaged and got the adrenaline going. Considering this game wasn't overly physical at any point, perhaps that's an approach we see when things get started Saturday night against Detroit.
But for the time being, let's break this one down.
Columbus gave up two goals in the first 10:23 of this game and they were two goals that Sergei Bobrovsky never got a good read on. Barret Jackman's wrister traveled through four or five bodies before finding the top corner of the net, and Patrik Berglund's missile from the left circle was out of the net as quickly as it went in.
Regardless of Bobrovsky having a chance on either goal, the Blue Jackets know the answer is all about the way they start the game and making sure the opposition doesn't get scoring chances because they're handed to them.
Read tonight's edition of "Aftermath" by clicking inside this blog post.
Two days later, Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards still didn't sound pleased about Tuesday's game when he met the media this morning at Nationwide Arena.
We heard the phrase "30 minutes of hockey" after a 3-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild and it wasn't one of the Blue Jackets' better performances of the young season. Richards said he had a message for the players when they gathered on the ice for today's morning skate, but the context of the discussion will remain between he and the team.
St. Louis is probably the best opponent for where the Blue Jackets currently are. The Blues are a strong, fast and physical team that demands the most out of its opponent, or else it's a long night. The Blue Jackets can bring nothing less than their "A" game if they want to defeat a Blues club that has won five of its first six games and hasn't shown many weaknesses in its game.
Brian Elliot starts in goal for the Blues and he will face Sergei Bobrovsky for the Blue Jackets. The goaltending matchup is just one of many layers to this game, and the most notable layer is the injury trouble that Columbus has run into of late. Cam Atkinson, Matt Calvert, Nikita Nikitin and Adrian Aucoin are all out of the Blue Jackets lineup, but Richards said this morning that all but Atkinson are expected back within a week.Read tonight's "three keys" to success for the Blue Jackets inside this blog post.
Jonathan Audy-Marchessault has heard the word "no" a lot during his hockey career, which made "yes" sound even better when his phone rang yesterday.
With the American Hockey League still on its All-Star break, Audy-Marchessault wasn't at the rink when he got the news of his recall to Columbus. The bags couldn't be packed fast enough, though, and he joined teammate Tim Erixon on a travel odyssey that saw the pair arrive in Columbus shortly after 9:30 p.m. last night.
The guy affectionately known as "JAM" was somehow an undrafted free agent who signed a one-year, AHL-only deal with the Connecticut Whale after racking up 95 points 68 games with the Quebec Remparts (QMJHL) in 2010-11. After a 64-point season (24 goals, 40 assists) with the Whale a year ago, he was not signed to a contract by the New York Rangers and became an unrestricted free agent this past summer.
The Blue Jackets swooped in on July 1 and signed him to a three year, entry-level deal and all he's done since is become the AHL's third-leading scorer and be named a starter for the Eastern Conference at the AHL All-Star Classic.
Not too bad, eh?
"I was really happy to get the chance to play my first game in the NHL tonight," Audy-Marchessault said after today's morning skate. "I'm excited, and obviously it's every hockey player's dream to play in the NHL. You have to keep focused and we have a job to do here. I think I'll be able to do it tonight."Read the rest of this story by clicking inside the blog post.