Game Day Blog: vs. Florida
MORNING SKATE: TODD RICHARDS
On keeping up the defensive-zone play from Wednesday's game: "The message first is - I told the guys on the ice after the morning skate - as coaches, we were curious how we would respond after Monday's game and the thumping we took up in Detroit. The guys responded. It was a credit to them, because the defensive zone play...we were a real committed group. We did a great job up the ice with our forwards tracking, our defense had much better gaps and they weren't able to cut across, make these plays and attack our net. We were more urgent and more desperate than they were. But the is tonight...how are we going to respond after Wednesday's game? I didn't like our morning skate today, and I know you don't win games in morning skates. But some of us just weren't ready. I hope that we'll respond differently tonight."
On the solid play in front of Allen York during his first win: "Credit to the guys and how they played. I got some questions from reporters after our game in Detroit, just about if guys were quitting. As I told them, it's a pretty strong word and I'm curious as how we will respond. The guys basically answered that question."
On Nikita Nikitin playing through injuries of late: "What I will say is, I think it would have been easy for him to say 'I can't play.' It would have been really easy for him to do that. I can't remember the game or the situation, but I think we were in the middle of back-to-back games and he took a shot off the ankle one night and he couldn't finish the game. Coming out of the game, I'm thinking 'now we'll have to go out and get another defenseman.' He ended up playing the next night. I remember the next morning, he came into the rink early, put his skate on and said 'I'm playing.' It's a credit to him, because where we're at in the season and what's gone on...there are certain players that would have said 'I can't play.' I think that's true around the league, not just our guys."
On the recall of Dalton Prout: "David's game...he came up and he was okay. He wasn't particularly bad. In talking (to coaches in Springfield), Prout has played really well for them. It's an opportunity to bring him up - we brought him up earlier in the year but didn't get him into a game - and this was a chance to make a swap and reward Prout for his hard work and what he's done down in Springfield."
On pairing Prout with Jack Johnson: "Jack, playing 35 minutes, is paired up with just about everyone. I think it'll start that way. Brad (Berry) has a done a good job managing the defense. I'm sure throughout the game it will be mixed up at times."
On Ryan Johansen's game on Wedensday night: "I don't know if you guys felt the same way, but for me, it was his best game of the year. When he didn't have the puck, he was moving his feet. When he skates and uses his speed - he's not a Pavel Bure type player - but when he does move, because the other things he possesses are his size and power...when he skates like that and gets an advantage because of his body size, he's a tough guy to defend. It made him a real impactful player in the game."
FINAL FOUR: With the NCAA Final Four upon us, we asked some of the players how their brackets are doing - and who they like to win the national championship. Courtesy of Jackets TV:
YORK STARTS: Allen York was the first goaltender off the ice this morning. Looks like he's the starter tonight against Florida. It will be York's third career NHL start and second in a row.
Interim head coach Todd Richards will not be changing the lineup from Wednesday's win over the Detroit Red Wings. The one alteration is Prout going into the lineup in place of David Savard, who was assigned to Springfield yesterday. These are the projected line combinations for the Blue Jackets:
- Having arrived in Columbus late last night from Minnesota, it's unlikely the Panthers will skate today. We will have more information on their lineup (and any changes) throughout the day.
One of Jack Johnson's idols growing up as a young football player was former Ohio State linebacker Andy Katzenmoyer. Jack got a surprise visit from Andy after practice last week, and Jackets TV was there to capture the experience:
Everyone is present and accounted for at the Blue Jackets skate this morning. That includes Dalton Prout, wearing the No. 47 after he was recalled from Springfield (AHL) yesterday. The two goaltenders are Allen York and recently-signed Shawn Hunwick, who has replaced his winged U of M helmet with a navy blue mask. He's still wearing his traditional "block M" leg pads that gained so much popularity in Ann Arbor.
While we're waiting for line rushes, you can check out our BlueJackets.com feature on Hunwick's crazy-but-exciting first day in the National Hockey League.
Good morning from Nationwide Arena! Tonight marks the penultimate home game in the 2011-12 regular season for the Blue Jackets, and they're set to take on the Southeast Division leading Florida Panthers. The Panthers are red-hot coming into tonight's game: they are 6-1-3 in their last 10 games and played last night against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center (a 3-2 overtime loss).
Jose Theodore started that game for head coach Kevin Dineen, and it's very possible the Panthers will turn to backup Scott Clemmensen against Columbus. The veteran netminder also started Florida's last visit to Nationwide - nearly a year ago today - a 3-2 shootout victory by the Blue Jackets that featured the game-winning goal from rookie Maksim Mayorov.
Let's get the morning started with the highlights from that thrilling win: