Alright, let's put the finishing touches on this puppy.
The Blue Jackets and Blackhawks played a game tonight that started dull, hit a crescendo with a controversial disallowed goal in the second period, and culminated in a thrilling last-minute push by the home side. In the end, Chicago skated away with its fifth straight win to open this abbreviated NHL season, and the Blue Jackets are now winless in their last four.
Let's not dwell on the negatives, though, especially considering the Blue Jackets put together a solid team game against one of the most talented clubs in the business. They did pretty much everything they needed to get the two points, but the final consequences will be debated for quite a while (just not in this blog).
Steve Mason made 21 saves and was very good, including a pair of big-time glove stops on Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp that happened to come at pivotal junctures of the game. The ice tilted back and forth on a number of occasions and neither team really grabbed momentum, and it made for an entertaining third period with Chicago hanging on to a one-goal lead.
Was this the Blue Jackets' best performance of the season? I'd lean that way, but the collective gusto they showed in the latter stages against Nashville was also impressive. They checked Chicago's top players hard, make them work for their space and played a physical brand of hockey that didn't put a smile on the visitors' faces. That's what you want from this team.
Read tonight's "Aftermath" inside this blog post.
Todd Richards was very candid this morning when discussing tonight's game against the Chicago Blackhawks: he said it's no secret the opponent is in top form right now, and it's going to be a challenge for the Blue Jackets to emerge with a victory.
That being said, he's not approaching the game as if it's David vs. Goliath or something mythical, but making sure all areas of concern are addressed prior to the game. For starters (no pun intended), Richards wants his club to start the game "on time" and avoid the mental lapses suffered in Nashville and Colorado, where they gave up goals on essentially the first shift.
Columbus has to begin tonight's game on its toes against a Blackhawks squad that's in high gear, or else they could get in hot water quickly. In four games this season, Chicago has scored 17 goals and has won games both from the lead and by rallying late -- including a stunner earlier this week in Dallas. Everything is in play and the Blue Jackets know this opponent very well, so there should be no surprises when it comes to game preparation this evening.
Steve Mason starts in goal for the Blue Jackets, and he faces Corey Crawford in net for Chicago.
Check out tonight's "three keys" to success inside this blog post.
The Blackhawks are coming off a come-from-behind overtime win against the Dallas Stars earlier in the week, and as of today, they hold a perfect 4-0-0 record and sit atop the division and the conference. Patrick Kane is on a tear to start the season, and most of the points are coming from setting up Marian Hossa's goals.
Kane has put up seven points in the first four games and Hossa has five goals, including the overtime winner in Dallas (off a gorgeous behind-the-back pass from Kane). Those two are really in-sync right now, and it's a challenge for any team to contain them.
Keep up with all of the news on game day -- including lineups, tonight's starting goaltenders, interviews with the coach and players, and a whole lot more. Follow along inside this blog post.
The Blue Jackets want to be a speedy, in-your-face team that is opportunistic with scoring chances and its opponents’ mistakes. When the puck drops tonight at Nationwide Arena, they will be facing the gold standard in that department.
After a long stretch of futility in the Central Division, the Chicago Blackhawks redefined themselves in the late 2000s and stockpiled a plethora of skilled players with high draft picks. They made calculated trades and free-agent signings to balance out their roster -- all geared toward massaging an identity that still befits them today.
They are one of the quickest teams in the NHL and can change the game in the blink of an eye. All four lines can get involved in the offense, and their young players drive the bus. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews were the building blocks, and Chicago added players like Patrick Sharp (trade) and Marian Hossa (free agency) to mix finishers with table-setters.
Columbus is very familiar with this Blackhawks squad, and they have been involved in several memorable games over the years. The Blue Jackets clinched their first-ever playoff berth at the United Center in 2009, shaking off 2-0 and 3-2 deficits to tie the game and eventually win in a shootout – and that was one of the tamer get-togethers between these division rivals.
Read the rest of this story inside the blog post.
The story of the game could be summed up as such: the Blue Jackets started slowly for the third time in four games, rebounded well and put together a solid 40 minutes, but ultimately dropped a 4-0 decision to the Avalanche.
Sergei Bobrovsky struggled at the start, but made some key saves in the later half of the first period and more in the second to keep the Blue Jackets in decent shape entering the second period. Don't get it mistaken: if not for the goaltender, Columbus may have faced an even larger deficit after a subpar first period.
One bright spot (even though it didn't produce) was the Blue Jackets power play, which has regularly looked confident each time it gets an opportunity. They were scoreless in six chances, but the amount of opportunities coming from this group has to be encouraging for Todd Richards and his coaching staff.
Read Rob Mixer's full analysis of the game by clicking inside this blog post.
Perhaps the silver lining in last night's 5-1 loss in Phoenix is that the Blue Jackets have a quick turnaround before getting right back at it.
Their chance at redemption comes in about five hours when the puck drops at Pepsi Center for the first of three meetings this season with the Colorado Avalanche, who have historically held the upper-hand in the all-time series. Columbus split four meetings last season with the Avalanche, and the last was highlighted by Cam Atkinson's first career hat trick.
It was a particularly crushing loss for the Avalanche, which needed to win that Apr. 5 to keep any hope of playoff berth alive. By the wayside it went, but for both sides, it's a completely different ballgame when things get under way this evening.
Colorado has split its first two games of the season, dropping a 4-2 decision on opening night in Minnesota and winning its own home opener Tuesday vs. the Los Angeles Kings. While it hasn't exactly been a "mixed bag" of results, per se, the Avalanche have played two distinctly different games in their only two outings. The Blue Jackets have to prepare for any and all possibilities tonight, as the Avalanche have proven to be one of the NHL's most unpredictable teams (and that's a compliment).
The Blue Jackets are only three games into a marathon 48-game schedule, but one of their overarching goals was set long before training camp even began.
No one in the Columbus dressing room wanted much to do with finding positives from last year’s 30th-place finish, despite their improved play down the stretch and the emergence of young players into bigger roles.
Once the preparation began for the 2012-13 NHL season, the slate was wiped clean and the first item on their collective agenda was to work toward a new attitude around the club.
After a season of sweeping changes to the roster, including five new acquisitions via trade and/or free agency, the Blue Jackets not only had a new look on paper but a new approach as a group.
Everyone must pull together on the same rope to get to the next level, and as new president of hockey operations John Davidson has told the team, they’re headed north and he’s concerned about what happens from this point forward.
For young players and veterans, the “team first” demeanor is what they’ve worked to cement and make sure it’s a hallmark of their identity.
Good afternoon, everyone! Apologies for the slightly late start on today's Blue Jackets game blog, but the lack of a morning skate has pushed us back a bit. Here's what has transpired since the Blue Jackets' 5-1 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes last night in Glendale: Steve Mason started his first game of the season and made 37 saves in a losing effort, and I thought he was particularly sharp at the start of the game.
He did not receive a lot of support, and despite taking a 1-0 lead on a goal from Fedor Tyutin, the Blue Jackets were unable to sustain any semblance of flow in the offensive zone. As a result, they did a lot of chasing and a bevy of turnovers fed right into the Coyotes' preferred style of play: hard-checking, counterattacking hockey.
Get all the latest news, lineup changes & interviews from Denver as they happen with the BlueJackets.com game day blog!
The Blue Jackets are back on the road tonight and are about six hours from taking on the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena. If you'll recall, Columbus had one of its better games last season in that building: a 5-2 win on Mar. 3 that came days after the Coyotes polished off a perfect record in the month of February.
Steve Mason played well in that game and he's going to get the call tonight, making his first start of the season. The plan (at the moment) is for Sergei Bobrovsky to play tomorrow night against the Colorado Avalanche, Todd Richards said after the morning skate. That could change pending the outcome of tonight's game, but for now, that's where we stand.
I like the idea of playing Mason tonight, too. I know there's some skepticism out there and everyone has a right to express their opinion (my Twitter feed is proof of this), but I'm eager to see how Mason performs. He's worked hard this offseason to get into better shape and improve his agility, and since training camp began, he's logged some long days working with goaltending coach Ian Clark before and after practices.
Find Rob's "three keys" and other lineup news inside this blog post.
Good afternoon, everyone. It's time to fire up today's Blue Jackets game blog with the morning skate just wrapping up at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, and there's plenty to cover today.
The Blue Jackets and Coyotes are set for their first of three meetings in this shortened NHL season tonight, and it's the second road game for Columbus. As you'll recall, the first was a successful one with a shootout victory over the Predators.
Our own Jeff Rimer is on-site in Glendale to bring all the latest news and updates, and yours truly will be chipping in with analysis and insight as more information filters in. Follow along for up-to-the-minute information by clicking the "full story" link below.