In his first game with the Blue Jackets, Upshall makes an immediate impact
Twitter is proof that Scottie Upshall, exhausted from a long travel day on Tuesday, was asleep in the airport awaiting a flight to Vancouver to meet the Blue Jackets.
But by the time he arrived at Rogers Arena and met his new hockey family, he was eyes wide open.
Acquired in a trade from the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday afternoon, Upshall and Sami Lepisto jumped on a plane in Phoenix bound for Vancouver late that night. But travel delays kept them from reaching the team until around 2:30 p.m. Pacific time (7 p.m. puck drop). Following a brief system tutorial and a couple helpful conversations from the new linemates and defense partners, Upshall and Lepisto were inserted into the starting lineup in the Blue Jackets' 2-1 shootout loss to the Canucks.
"This is a very aggressive group and a fast team we have here," Upshall told BlueJackets.com. "I enjoy playing at high speed and keeping my shifts short.
"I love to play a fast style where it's go-go-go. It's a good way to play and easy for me to jump right in and get after it."
The Blue Jackets were dead-locked in a 1-1 game that was highly impacted by Upshall's line - Sammy Pahlsson and Derek Dorsett. They threw big hits at Vancouver's Ryan Kesler and Henrik Sedin anchored lines, and created numerous scoring chances at even strength. Upshall drew significant power-play time with R.J. Umberger and Matt Calvert, and felt he could have had a couple more goals the way his group played.
"I thought we did a lot of good things in the game, certainly enough to come up with the full two points," Blue Jackets head coach Scott Arniel said. "And I really thought both (new players) handled themselves well and played extremely well, too." And in a playoff race that's warming with each passing day, earning a single standings point is better than nothing, considering a four-minute power play for the Canucks with less than five minutes to play in the third period.
The Canucks, who own the NHL's top power-play unit, failed to score and the huge penalty kill helped get the game to overtime. Upshall, who took the penalty, was a happy human when the penalty box door opened with 54 seconds left.
"We played a good game and had a lot of chances early," Upshall said. "We would have liked to put a few more past (Roberto) Luongo with those breakaways.
"I give a lot of credit to those guys who killed that penalty late in the game. To get a point out of them is huge because we keep climbing."
And following a whirlwind couple of days, he has been able to compile an assessment of his new club.
"This is a fun group – that's the biggest thing," Upshall said.
"In this game it's so important to have fun and be around a good group of players. It's not easy to build that, and we have great leadership.
"It's a well-built fan base in Columbus. I've been around long enough to know what a winning team does for fans and it's awesome - we're building that here."