Off day ruminations and reflections
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.
Christopher Nilstorp starts in net for the Stars tonight and the Lehtonen "comfort" factor will determine who plays tomorrow vs. the Blue Jackets. Stars coach Glen Gulutzan said the team is going to monitor how Lehtonen feels tonight and into the morning, then make a decision after that.
We touched on it over the weekend, but the Blue Jackets' penalty kill has kept them in several games this season. The penalty kills aren't just consistent, but timely, and the momentum in games can sometimes ride on a power play at crucial junctures. So far, the Blue Jackets have the 10th-best penalty killing unit in the NHL (83.6 percent efficiency) and have allowed 12 power play goals against in their first 18 games.
Columbus' two shorthanded goals ties it for second-most in the league behind the New Jersey Devils, who have have scored four times while a man down but have one of the worst PK units in the NHL (76.5 percent, 26th overall). The Blue Jackets are pretty steady on the home/road penalty kill split, too: they are 84.2 at home and 82.9 away from Nationwide Arena.
Goaltending has been a huge part of the success, with both Steve Mason and Sergei Bobrovsky providing key stops for the Blue Jackets over the past two weeks.
#CBJBWW: HUGE SUCCESS
I had the good fortune of spending the past two road games watching with hundreds of Blue Jackets fans at Buffalo Wild Wings locations around Columbus. It's an awesome way to watch a game and something all fans should make it to if they can. There are six more watch parties planned, and as part of taking our CBJ Social Station "on the road," the experience is geared toward being active on social media.
Tweet during the game, update your blog and take some photos on Instagram -- capture the nature of it, really, and we'll find you. You'll have multiple chances to win autographed Blue Jackets memorabilia, team merchandise and tickets to upcoming games.
The next #CBJBWW watch party is this Friday night (March 1) as the Blue Jackets take on the Chicago Blackhawks at 8:30 p.m. Join us at the Buffalo Wild Wings location