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.
Speaking of St. Louis and the Blue Jackets, their second meeting of the season gets under way in about nine hours at the Scottrade Center. The last meeting was a 4-1 win for the Blues at Nationwide Arena, and it wasn't one of the Blue Jackets' better performances. It's a new day today and Columbus is coming off one its best efforts, so we'll see if they can parlay that into a second straight road win this evening.
As always, we'll have the latest from St. Louis as news happens -- and the blog will be updating throughout the day. I'll have in-game analysis between periods, so be sure to check back during intermissions, as well.
Stay tuned to the blog for news, lineups, player interviews and more!
As the Blue Jackets crossed the attacking blueline three abreast in a 2-2 game, Vinny Prospal reflected on his thoughts: "when you have an odd man rush, it should end up in the net."
They did just that, capping off a thrilling two-goal comeback in a tough building and sending the Detroit Red Wings to their fifth consecutive loss. With the win, the Blue Jackets improved their record in the season series to 2-0-1 and have collected five of six possible points in the three games -- and they did so in large part because they outworked a hungry opponent on its home ice.
Prospal's goal was the exclamation point on a spirited rally in the wake of Artem Anisimov's scary collision with Kyle Quincey in the second period, and it all started inside their own end. James Wisniewski made a great play to intercept a centering pass from Damien Brunner and started a 3-on-2 with Prospal and Derek Dorsett. Dorsett hit Wisniewski with a wide pass, and Wisniewski's pinpoint feed to Prospal was cashed in with a sick spin-o-rama from the 38-year-old veteran.
Columbus won its first road game in seven tries and snapped a three-game losing streak with tonight's victory. Sergei Bobrovsky, who struggled in the opening minutes, made 28 stops and was large for the Blue Jackets down the stretch.
Get complete analysis of tonight's thrilling win inside this blog post.
At the 3:48 mark of the second period tonight at Joe Louis Arena, Blue Jackets center Artem Anisimov was involved in a scary collision behind the Red Wings' net.
Matt Calvert began a forechecking sequence and Anisimov followed suit, but collided with Detroit defenseman Kyle Quincey and appeared to take a glancing blow to the side of his head before falling to the ice. Anisimov's neck and head were stabilized on a stretcher after he was down on the ice, and had to be taken out of the arena on a stretcher. He was transported to a local hospital for evaluation.
According to Blue Jackets public relations, Anisimov was "alert, moving, (and) never lost consciousness. He has gone to hospital as a precaution for further evaluation."
Anisimov, 24, was making his return to the lineup after missing two games with a lower body injury suffered Friday night in Los Angeles. We will have more information on Anisimov's condition if and when updates are made available.