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!
Ryan Murray strode through the Nationwide Arena press box last week after an intermission interview on FOX Sports Ohio, bearing a smile but no inhibiting extras on his arm or shoulder.
Perhaps the smile had something to do with the progression of his rehabilitation from a shoulder injury that's caused him to miss the rest of the season with the Everett Silvertips (WHL), an opportunity to represent Team Canada at the World Juniors and possibly a chance to crack the Blue Jackets' roster out of training camp in January.
But while the disappointment was initially tough to get past, Murray's rehab has kept him busy -- and he will be spending the next 4-5 weeks skating in Columbus and working with the club's strength and conditioning staff to inch closer to what he considers normal: playing hockey, taking checks and becoming a better player.
"I'm feeling a lot better," Murray told BlueJackets.com last week. "The shoulder feels good and I'm just taking it one day at a time right now."
Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen has been encouraged by Murray's progress and wants him to learn as much as he can while spending time around the Blue Jackets. For the time being, Murray has a locker stall in the main dressing room and gets some regular interaction with the guys on the team.
"I think he can gather a lot and that’s a big part of what being a young player is all about," Kekalainen told BlueJackets.com. "You have to listen a lot, keep your eyes and ears open and try to learn from what the pros do, the guys that have been around the league for a long time.
"Usually, the best young kids have that ability -- they listen a lot and they pay attention. That to me is an important part of his time in Columbus aside from the rehab: soak it in, ask questions and be all-ears.”Read the full story inside this blog post.
10:00 A.M. -- THE ROAD TRIP CONTINUES: Good morning, Blue Jackets fans! We are on the road again... this time in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia. After falling to the Nashville Predators last Saturday, the Jackets look to get back to their winning ways tonight against the Canucks at 10:00 P.M. ET. We have you covered all day so check back with us for all the CBJ content you crave!
LET'S GO JACKETS!
This game had an odd feel to it almost from the start.
Needing to play a desperate, all-out kind of game to keep pace in the Western Conference, the Predators and Blue Jackets started out slowly and didn't get a whole lot going in the way of offense until a mega-explosion from Nashville midway through the period. Four goals from the Predators in a span of 3:05 - a new franchise record for them - blew the game open and put the Blue Jackets in a big-time hole.
But to their credit, the Blue Jackets' approach from the past 12 game did not change. They picked themselves up, re-grouped and played a solid game in an effort to make it interesting. A quirky goal from Artem Anisimov late in the second period made it a 4-2 game, and in the process, put the Jackets in a position to stage a third-period comeback. The only thing missing was goal-scoring; the Blue Jackets played their style of hockey in the third period but couldn't get a third or fourth puck behind Pekka Rinne, who rebounded nicely from a lackluster effort last week in Columbus and put the clamps on any notion of a comeback from the visitors tonight.
Todd Richards said post-game that the Predators turned it up a notch midway through the first period and the Blue Jackets did not match their intensity.
"We need everyone on top of their game, and we didn't have everyone tonight," Richards said. "That's what happens when you don't. "(Nashville) wanted it, they wanted the puck more and competed harder than we did. That's the level we have to get to."
Read tonight's complete post-game breakdown inside this blog post.
Before the Blue Jackets began this stretch of 10 of 12 games at Nationwide Arena, they were trying to right the ship and turn some of their one-goal losses to the other side of the ledger.
Nearly three weeks later, they've found themselves in the thick of the Western Conference playoff picture and have set a franchise record with points in each of those dozen games. They went 8-0-4 in the aforementioned stretch, and after tonight's 5-1 win over Calgary, pulled into a tie in points (32) for the eighth and final playoff spot with an enormously important road trip beginning right now.
As I type this, the Blue Jackets are on a plane to Nashville where they'll face an angry Predators club tomorrow night at Bridgestone Arena. But like many players mentioned post-game tonight, they're so focused on themselves right now that opponents' situations barely (if ever) enter their minds. In the simplest form, they are lining up, putting their sticks down and going to work - and it's hard to argue with the results.
This game was one that could have gotten away from the Blue Jackets. They were not sharp to start the second period and the Flames were flying shift after shift before tying the game at 1-1 on Curtis Glencross' 13th goal of the year. Todd Richards said he felt a lack of intensity from his group, and their collective level wasn't high enough as the Flames made a strong push to turn the game around - but a big play from Artem Anisimov changed the complexion.
Anisimov drove hard to the net on Miikka Kiprusoff and disrupted the Flames goaltender a bit, and it lit a fire under his Jackets teammates. What happened after that, well, you know: they scored three times in 75 seconds - a franchise record - and rolled to their third straight win.
Get the complete post-game breakdown inside this blog post!
8:30 A.M. -- HOW ABOUT A DAY GAME? We're back at Nationwide Arena and getting ready for a 2 p.m. matinee against the Detroit Red Wings, and there will be plenty of things going on right here on the game day blog.
Here's what we know about today's game: the Red Wings are likely to start Jonas Gustavsson on the front end of this back-to-back set, with the second game coming tomorrow afternoon at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. The expectation is that Sergei Bobrovsky will get the call for the Blue Jackets, and hopefully, we'll have that confirmed by the warm-up.