GETTING STARTED: Good morning, Blue Jackets fans, and another happy game day to all of you and thanks for checking in with the game day blog. The morning skate is slated to start a bit normal than usual (probably around 9:45 a.m.) due to today's 6 p.m. puck drop at Nationwide Arena.
An important and should-be entertaining game on tap today, one would think. The Oilers dropped a 2-1 decision yesterday in Detroit, while the Blue Jackets are eager to make amends for a 4-3 overtime loss to the Calgary Flames on Thursday. One of these teams is going to break out of a losing streak today; the Oilers have lost five straight, and the Blue Jackets have dropped back-to-back contests after beating the Red Wings last weekend.
We're expecting Devan Dubnyk to start in net for Edmonton today, and we should get word soon regarding the Blue Jackets' starting netminder. Stay tuned to the blog for all the latest, as we'll have more updates, photos, player/coach interviews and more throughout the day.Follow along for the latest by clicking inside this blog post.
Todd Richards has had a pretty clear message the past couple of days: he wants the Blue Jackets to win more puck battles and to do so expeditiously.
It's an issue that has affected several areas of their game, too; they aren't winning as many battles which means they're chasing the play, more players are having to come in and support the puck, and their shifts are getting longer. Much of that was evident during Thursday's game against the Calgary Flames, when the Blue Jackets got backed up into their own zone for much of the second period.
Richards pointed to teams like the Flames and Los Angeles Kings who have big, strong forwards that like to cycle the puck in the offensive zone. If those players are first on the puck and are winning the initial battle, they're settling into their game and doing most of the dictating.
After an hour-plus of energetic practice this morning at the OhioHealth Ice Haus, Richards said he's looking for his team to get more focused and determined on puck battles and shutting down offensive chances before they can even get started.Read the full story from today's practice inside this blog post.
James Wisniewski sat in his locker stall this afternoon and candidly admitted that he doesn't remember much about that violent collision into the boards last weekend.
In the days since, his teammates have told him about the deafening silence that took over within Nationwide Arena, how "you could hear a pin drop" while he lay in severe pain on the ice and how Blue Jackets and Red Wings players nervously looked on before he got to his feet and left with assistance.
It was a scary moment for Wisniewski the hockey player, but equally (if not more so) scary for Wisniewski the soon-to-be father, whose wife Nicole is expecting to deliver the couple's first child any day now.
When he watched the accident on replay, he said he thought about how lucky he was to not sustain any long-term or serious injuries but was startled by how fast everything happened. It was a top-speed sequence of events and Wisniewski said he was in the "dangerous area," with about four feet separating his body and the boards when he lost his footing.
The general body soreness he experienced in the days after the injury has started to subside, and Wisniewski said he will undergo further testing tomorrow to hopefully inch closer to getting the "green light."
Read the full story on Wisniewski's return to practice inside this blog post.
Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards was asked whether effort or execution is ailing his club right now, and he needed little time to indict the latter.
Though it wasn't the end-all-be-all moment in this hockey game, you have to look back at the power play opportunity with 1:50 to play in a 3-3 deadlock. It was on a tee for the Blue Jackets: the Flames had put a good press on them in the second period and taken the lead early in the third, but the home side answered and held steady when the game really could have gotten out of hand.
But when they failed to convert, you could just sense the shift in momentum coming. It almost felt inevitable.
Fedor Tyutin crept in from the point to accept a brilliant behind-the-back pass from Artem Anisimov (who looked to be kept under control by two Flames defenders in the corner), but his one-timer missed everything and Calgary rushed back the other way led by captain Jarome Iginla.
A missed chance at one end, and the game winner at the other. That's hockey.Read the complete breakdown of tonight's game inside this blog post.
Two teams looking for the same thing (consistency) meet tonight at Nationwide Arena, and both are battling injuries in the process.
Calgary must make do without No. 1 goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff, who was injured in the Flames' win over the Detroit Red Wings earlier this week. Leland Irving, who the organization thinks very highly of, gets the call between the pipes this evening and will be backed up by Danny Taylor. Flames coach Bob Hartley also said that Mike Cammalleri's status for the game is a game-time decision.
For the Blue Jackets, they get Nikita Nikitin back in the lineup and it's a significant addition to a blueline that has relied on four AHL call-ups in the wake of recent injuries. They're on the path to recovery, slowly but surely, and adding an all-situations defenseman like Nikitin will have an impact throughout the lineup.
Sergei Bobrovsky gets the start for the Blue Jackets tonight, and his only career game against Calgary was an overtime loss. His stats in that game: 1.85 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage. Irving has never played a game against Columbus in his brief NHL career, in which he has compiled a record of 1-3-3 in eight starts.Get the full breakdown tonight's game inside this blog post!
Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards often jokes that Jack Johnson could play the entire game, but it became a bit more serious when they lost four top-six defensemen in less than a week.
The injury troubles began in a 3-2 loss to Minnesota on Jan. 29 when both Nikita Nikitin and Adrian Aucoin left the game early and did not return. Then it was James Wisniewski's scary collision with the end boards last weekend and a practice injury for John Moore, leading to several call-ups from the Springfield Falcons.
Nick Holden, Tim Erixon, Cody Goloubef, and David Savard make up the top four defense for first-place Springfield, which has managed to keep chugging along despite injuries and recalls. Those players are now playing on NHL ice for the Blue Jackets and filling in while the club hopes to see some injuries begin to heal.
Johnson played over 34 minutes in games against Detroit and Los Angeles but will likely see less tonight when Nikitin returns to the lineup, which Richards said is a huge lift to a defense corps that's inexperienced and has had to shoulder a lot of responsibility.
"Nikitin going back in on the back end will be a big help for us," Richards said. "He's a guy with some poise and can play in every situation that can handle the puck and make a good first pass. Hopefully we don't have to spend as much time in our own zone and can get the puck off his stick and on to somebody else's stick and in the right place."Read the full story on Nikitin's return inside this blog post.
KICKING IT OFF: Good morning and happy game day! We're back at Nationwide Arena and the Blue Jackets are getting set to take on the Calgary Flames later on this evening. It's a big game for both teams, too; the Flames are coming off a win in Detroit two nights ago and looking to get headed in the right direction after a slow start, and the Blue Jackets are looking to level their record on this six-game home stand.
We don't yet know the identity of the Blue Jackets' starting goaltender tonight, but we do know Leland Irving will be between the pipes for Calgary. Miikka Kiprusoff is listed as day-to-day with a lower body injury suffered in Detroit, and he's out for this game. The Flames signed Danny Taylor, a one-time Springfield Falcon, to a one-year deal yesterday to serve as Irving's backup while Kiprusoff recovers.
Stay tuned to the BlueJackets.com game day blog for all the latest news, photos and player interviews from today's morning skate!
In four seasons as an assistant coach with the Milwaukee Admirals, the top farm club of the Nashville Predators, Todd Richards had the chance to coach some of the organization's best prospects and help them grow into NHL players.
The list is a long one, too: Ryan Suter, Shea Weber, Pekka Rinne, Martin Erat, David Legwand and others suited up for the Admirals during Richards' time there, and it wasn't just a collection of top prospects -- it was a very successful hockey team. So when the Blue Jackets assigned Ryan Johansen to the Springfield Falcons this morning, there were historical footnotes for Richards to reference in his own career.
That Admirals team was a powerhouse, winning two West Division titles, making two appearances in the Calder Cup Final and winning the 2004 Calder Cup championship during Richards' four years there, and he's seen several players go through what Johansen is right now.
He needs to re-discover his game, Richards said, and the only reason he was assigned today is because of his play.
"I wasn’t sure if he was going to start the year here," Richards said. "He earned the right to be here, based on his play for the six days of camp and how he started the year. To me, there was a peak and I think it was in Colorado, and since then his game has been going downhill."Read the rest of this story inside the blog post.
The Blue Jackets will not be without one of their most reliable forwards tomorrow night against Calgary.
Brandon Dubinsky, who received a major penalty for boarding as well as a game misconduct during last night's game vs. Los Angeles, was assessed a $10,000 fine by the NHL's Department of Player Safety this afternoon. Dubinsky took part in a hearing with league discipline chief Brendan Shanahan in regard to his hit on Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi.
He is eligible to play tomorrow when the Blue Jackets host the Flames at Nationwide Arena.
At the 11:29 mark of the second period in Tuesday's game, Dubinsky and Scuderi chased down a loose puck in the Los Angeles end of the ice. Dubinsky was in on the forecheck and caught Scuderi with a hit that got him ejected from the game. Scuderi was down on the ice momentarily, but made it to the bench and was able to continue in the game. Kings center Mike Richards then instigated a fight with Dubinsky that earned two penalties, as well.
Prior to last night's incident (and now after), Dubinsky has never been suspended by the NHL and he said the major penalty was his first non-fighting major in his NHL career.Continue reading the full story inside this blog post.
There have only been two suspensions handed down by the NHL's Department of Player Safety in this truncated season, but the Blue Jackets hope they're not staring down at the third.
At the 11:29 mark of the second period last night against Los Angeles, Columbus center Brandon Dubinsky chased a loose puck into the right wing corner along with Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi. Dubinsky finished a hard check that appeared to catch Scuderi in the head, and was assessed a five minute boarding major on the play as well as a game misconduct.
Immediately following the hit, Kings center Mike Richards instigated a fight with Dubinsky and negated most of what would have been a lengthy power play for Los Angeles. Scuderi was down on the ice momentarily, but eventually made it to the bench and was able to finish the game.
As with all boarding majors and game misconducts, the Dubinsky hit is likely to be reviewed by NHL head disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan -- if it has not been already. Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards did not want to comment on the play or the penalty, but accepted the penalties assessed on the play.Read the full story inside this blog post.