POSTED ON Thursday, 01.31.2013 / 11:50 PM
By Rob Mixer - BlueJackets.com / CBJ Today


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.

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POSTED ON Thursday, 01.31.2013 / 10:25 PM
By Rob Mixer - BlueJackets.com / CBJ Today


Slow starts are becoming a problem for the Blue Jackets, and listening to Brandon Dubinsky talk after the game, it's going to take a collective effort from the players to get it straightened out.

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.

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POSTED ON Thursday, 01.31.2013 / 4:00 PM
By Rob Mixer - BlueJackets.com / CBJ Today


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.
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POSTED ON Thursday, 01.31.2013 / 11:30 AM
By Rob Mixer - BlueJackets.com / CBJ Today

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.

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POSTED ON Thursday, 01.31.2013 / 9:30 AM
By Rob Mixer - BlueJackets.com / CBJ Today


Good morning and happy game day! The Blue Jackets and St. Louis Blues are set for a Central Division clash tonight at Nationwide Arena, and the BlueJackets.com game day blog is here and ready to be your one-stop shop for all the latest news, interviews and more from now until puck drop.

That last sentence kind of rhymed, which would be extra cool if I was planning on it. I actually didn't realize it until after I posted this. Consider it a late edit to make myself feel good.

The skinny on tonight's game: the Blue Jackets are looking to bounce back from Tuesday's 3-2 loss in Minnesota in which they fought back from 2-0 deficit, only to give up the winner with 5:19 to play. They've got an opponent tonight that's playing solid hockey and has won five of its first six games, so it'll be another "all hands on deck" performance needed to get the win.

Let's recap yesterday's happenings before heading down to the Blue Jackets morning skate:

- Jonathan Audy-Marchessault and Tim Erixon were called up from Springfield yesterday and both players are expected to make their Blue Jackets debuts tonight. It will be the NHL debut for Audy-Marchessault, 22, who is the third-leading scorer in the AHL and like Erixon, represented the Falcons at last weekend's AHL All-Star Classic in Providence.


Keep up with the latest on game day by following the LIVE blog!

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 01.30.2013 / 5:00 PM
By Rob Mixer - BlueJackets.com / CBJ Today


The injury bug has found its way to the Blue Jackets, but on the bright side, it presents an opportunity for some of the organization's prospects to step up and contribute.

Jonathan Audy-Marchessault and Tim Erixon were recalled by the club this afternoon in the wake of more injuries suffered in the last two games. Both players recently appeared in the AHL's All-Star Weekend in Providence, where Audy-Marchessault and Erixon were named starters for the Eastern Conference.

More affectionately known as "JAM," Audy-Marchessault is currently the third-leading scorer in the AHL with 45 points (16 goals, 29 assists) in 42 games. He's the leading active scorer in the AHL, as Jordan Eberle and Justin Schultz of Oklahoma City are both in the NHL with the Edmonton Oilers.

Audy-Marchessault, 22, was signed to an entry-level deal by the Blue Jackets in July as an unrestricted free agent. He spent one season with the Connecticut Whale on an AHL-only deal, so Columbus was able to sign him and get him under contract for at least the next three years. He's a highly-skilled play maker who can dangle and shoot the puck, and has been a regular scoring threat for Brad Larsen's power play unit in Springfield.

Read more about today's recalls inside this blog post.
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POSTED ON Tuesday, 01.29.2013 / 11:30 PM
By Rob Mixer - BlueJackets.com / CBJ Today

Todd Richards was visibly displeased with the performance of his team tonight, and he wanted no part of the travel delay or back-to-back nights as an excuse.

He expected -- and his players did, too -- a better effort coming to St. Paul to take on a Wild team that had been slumping lately. There was an opening and opportunity for the Blue Jackets to build on the good things they did Monday night against Dallas and further establish consistency in their style of play.

But as Richards said after the game, he thought his team only put in a half-night's work.

Their first 10 minutes and final 20 were exactly what they were looking for, but unfortunately, the meat of tonight's game was their undoing. Mikko Koivu opened the scoring on a fluky goal midway through the first period, Tom Gilbert scored on a Blue Jackets defensive zone breakdown, and Pierre-Marc Bouchard netted the winner on another broken play.

Did they play well enough to win? At times, certainly, but their lapses were glaring and if not for Mason it could have been far worse than a one-goal game.

The NHL's youngest team entering the game, the Blue Jackets could be on the verge of getting younger. Adrian Aucoin and Nikita Nikitin both suffered injuries in Minnesota and will be evaluated once the team gets back to Columbus, Richards said. The nature of their injuries is unknown.

Read the full breakdown in "Aftermath" by clicking inside this blog post.

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 01.29.2013 / 5:30 PM
By Rob Mixer - BlueJackets.com / CBJ Today

As relieving and exciting as last night's 2-1 win over Dallas was, it is now a thing of the past.

The Blue Jackets, through some fog delays and a late arrival in St. Paul, have to turn the page and quickly get ready for a tangle with the Minnesota Wild tonight. It's an offensively-charged, fast-skating club on the other bench this evening, and once again, the Blue Jackets will have their improved checking game put to the test.

Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu, Dany Heatley, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Devin Setoguchi, Mikael Granlund...there's no shortage of talent on Mike Yeo's club and there aren't any sluggish skaters in that group. They like to push the pace, get the puck moving up the ice and putting pucks on the target. Parise's the hot hand right now, riding a five-game scoring streak and leading the team with five goals in the first five games.

Yeo will start Niklas Backstrom in goal tonight; Backstrom holds a 9-5-1 lifetime record against the Blue Jackets with a 2.27 goals-against average and .923 save percentage. On the Columbus side, Steve Mason gets the nod in goal and he's 4-5-1 in his career against the Wild with a 2.76 goals-against average and .905 save percentage.

This is an interesting game for many reasons: can the Blue Jackets put three solid efforts together and get the desired result on back-to-back nights, and will they be able to slow down the Wild's top line?

Read the "three keys" to tonight's game inside this blog post.

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 01.29.2013 / 5:00 PM
By Rob Mixer - BlueJackets.com / CBJ Today

Good afternoon, everyone. The Blue Jackets have arrived safely in St. Paul, Minn. and are getting ready to take on the Wild tonight at Xcel Energy Center. After some travel delays (thanks, fog) that forced the team to fly out of Columbus this morning rather than last night, everyone's refreshed and ready to go for tonight's 8 p.m. ET puck drop.

Steve Mason gets the start in goal for the Blue Jackets, and he will oppose Niklas Backstrom in net for the Wild.

We're about two hours and 15 minutes from the opening face-off in Minnesota. Follow along inside this blog post for all the latest news!

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 01.29.2013 / 2:30 PM
By Rob Mixer - BlueJackets.com / CBJ Today


Brandon Dubinsky is quickly becoming one of the Blue Jackets’ go-to players in clutch situations.

His five full seasons with the New York Rangers consisted of 31 playoff games, and that experience is something he frequently relies on. Since joining the Blue Jackets over the summer, he’s wanted to be one of the players on the ice protecting a lead in the third period and also one of the players charged with finding the tying goal.

Though the offense hasn’t arrived yet for the 26-year-old center (one assist in the first six games), his impact is noticeable. Dubinsky began the 2012-13 season playing the wing on a line with Artem Anisimov and Derek Dorsett, but has since switched back to the middle to center a unit with Derick Brassard and Matt Calvert.

In last night’s 2-1 win over the Dallas Stars at Nationwide Arena, Dubinsky played one of his strongest and most impactful games with Columbus. He logged 19:36 – second most among Blue Jackets forwards – with most of them coming in the third period and on the penalty kill.

And for a young Blue Jackets club that’s still seeking a complete, 60-minute performance, Dubinsky’s “winning time” minutes provide a prime example of what’s expected every single night.

Read the full story by clicking inside this blog post.

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