Afternoon matinees are typically odd games (at least to start), and the same can be expected when the Blue Jackets and Avalanche get together for a 3 p.m. tilt at Nationwide Arena.
There are some common threads between the two clubs, as well: they're each dealing with injuries to key members of their teams and neither has played particularly well on the road so far this season. The Avalanche open a brief three-game swing through the midwest with today's game before heading out to Detroit and Chicago later this week.
Coming off a disappointing overtime loss to the NHL-leading Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night, Todd Richards and the Blue Jackets know they have some mistakes to clean up but also some positives to glean from a pretty well-rounded performance. Save for one goal in the second period, Steve Mason was terrific for Columbus and made several key stops at crucial moments that gave the Blue Jackets an opportunity to tie the game in the third period.
The Avalanche are coming off a thrilling 5-4 win over the Calgary Flames on the same night they matched the Flames' RFA offer sheet for Ryan O'Reilly, who is expected to play this afternoon against the Blue Jackets. They erased deficits of 3-0 and 4-2 in the game, and Matt Duchene snapped home the game-winner in the third period for Colorado.Read today's "three keys" to success for the Blue Jackets inside this blog post.
Given how the last few games have gone for the Blue Jackets from an injury standpoint, an optional practice today and no morning skate tomorrow must be music to their ears.
During Friday's morning skate at the United Center in Chicago, defenseman John Moore suffered what's being described as an upper body injury and was unable to play in the club's 4-3 overtime loss. Coupled with injuries to James Wisniewski and Jack Johnson, there are plenty of minutes available on the blue line and coach Todd Richards has relied on several young defensemen to step up.
Tim Erixon, who has played increasingly better with each passing game, logged 25:13 last night against the Blackhawks and found himself on the ice in all situations. He had one of the more active stat lines, as well, with a few blocked shots, three hits, and a +1 rating.
With five defensemen to start the game (until Dalton Prout's arrival in the first period), the Blue Jackets had a quite a few blue liners log heavy minutes. Adrian Aucoin played a season-high 24:37 and Fedor Tyutin was 23 seconds short of 30 minutes of duty.
Richards said the quality minutes contributed by the young defensemen have been a positive, but credit for their play also goes to the veterans who have helped ease their transition to the NHL level.Read the full update from practice (incl. injury news) inside this blog post.
Due to injuries at the NHL level with the Blue Jackets, the Falcons are missing three of their top-six defensemen, several of their top forwards (Matt Calvert, Ryan Johansen, Cam Atkinson) but just keep plugging away and are chasing down the top spot in the entire American Hockey League.
Head coach Brad Larsen has his club atop the Northeast Division, as well, with a 32-14-7 record through 53 games -- and the Falcons have two games in hand on Eastern Conference-leading Syracuse, which is currently atop the AHL standings.
The Falcons accomplished a rare feat last night: they won two games in the span of about four hours. They completed a postponed game with Adirondack before their regularly-scheduled game took place (resuming the Feb. 17 game with 3:42 left in the second period), and rallied for a shootout win at MassMutual Center.
Jonathan Audy-Marchessault provided a memorable shootout goal, going to the complete "spin-o-rama" and sweeping the puck behind Phantoms goalie Cal Heeter to propel the Falcons to their first win of the day.
Click inside this blog post for video of "JAM's" sweet shootout move!
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.