Game Day Central: Blue Jackets vs. Rangers
LISTEN: Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards calls tonight's loss "embarrassing hockey" and says the Jackets "got exactly what (we) deserved." Hear his full comments HERE.
LISTEN: Brandon Dubinsky addresses the media after tonight's 4-2 loss to the Rangers. Click HERE.
WATCH: Ryan Murray's second NHL goal to make it 3-2 in the second period SECOND PERIOD ANALYSIS: Wild period just completed that saw the Rangers register 21 shots. Bobrovsky has been terrific tonight and he's up to 28 saves through two periods at Nationwide Arena. More than a handful of those have been top-notch, too, and he's a big reason why the Jackets are still in this one. Nice goal by Ryan Murray in the second period to bring the Jackets within a goal on the shift after another own goal into the Jackets' net. A misplay by Nikitin hand-cuffed Mark Letestu, who had the puck bounce off of him and behind Bobrovsky at the side of the net. The Blue Jackets bounced right back up though and have played an energetic anad physical game so far. Should be another entertaining period in the third.
LISTEN: Ryan Murray's second goal of the season which brought the Jackets within a goal, at 3-2, in the second period. Click HERE.
WATCH: Fedor Tyutin's first-period goal:
UPDATE (2:30 PM): Jody Shelley and Bob McElligott break down tonight's game in our latest "Rink Report."
UPDATE (12:15 PM): Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards held his usual pre-game meeting with the media today. JacketsTV was there to capture it.
UPDATE (11:14 AM): Richards just announced tonight's lineup changes...Nick Foligno will be in the lineup tonight and Sean Collins will sit. On the back end, Dalton Prout sits and David Savard will play. RJ Umberger is a game-time decision.
UPDATE (11:10 AM): Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards, who had a lengthy chat with Gaborik on the ice after practice on Wednesday, said his message during that conversation was "no different than with any other play." He said that, as a professional athlete, he thinks Gaborik knows what he can do better and hopes to see it tonight.
UPDATE (11:00 AM): Marian Gaborik - another former Ranger (sense a theme here?) - just met with the media in the Jackets dressing room. He said this is a special game for many reasons and one that he's been looking forward to for quite some time. But like Dubinsky, Gaborik said the Blue Jackets have enough to worry about with their own game and trying to snap out of their slump. As for getting back to the scoring pace he was on earlier in the season, Gaborik said he can absolutely play better and generate more offense. How does that start? Gaborik said he can shoot more pucks and play with more speed and that's something he's trying to get back to starting with tonight's game.
UPDATE (10:45 AM): Brandon Dubinsky, a second-round draft pick of the Rangers back in 2004, said he's pretty exicted about tonight's game but "you have to keep your wits about you." He said his primary focus is on the Jackets and getting back on track; Dubinsky and his teammates feel like they've done many things well during their four-game skid but they need to be on top of their game to get two points from the Rangers tonight.
UPDATE (10:30 AM): As the morning skate wraps up, stay tuned to Game Day Central for live updates all day long. We'll talk to the former Rangers, (hopefully) some former Blue Jackets and get the coach's thoughts on tonight's game. The Rangers are here at the rink this morning but we're not yet sure if they'll skate.
UPDATE (10:20 AM): You already knew this, but Bobrovsky starts tonight. He was in the starters' net today.
UPDATE (10:05 AM): Appears to be an optional morning skate for the Blue Jackets today. Nick Foligno is back on the with the group, and Sergei Bobrovsky is going to get the start in goal. RJ Umberger and Artem Anisimov are not taking part in the skate.
#CBJ SOCIAL CONTEST: You won't want to miss tonight's first #CBJvsNYR battle of the season (for many reasons), so we're giving you an opportunity to join us! Here's the trivia question you'll need to anaswer...
Which player came to Columbus along with Fedor Tyutin in a 2008 trade with the Rangers? Tweet us at @BlueJacketsNHL using #CBJSocial to submit your answer!
UPDATE (9:50 AM): The players are starting to filter on the ice for today's morning skate. We'll keep you updated with all the latest news as it happens!
The Blue Jackets are scheduled to take the ice for their morning skate at 10AM Thursday. After arriving overnight from New York, the Rangers aren't expected to hold a full-team skate prior to the game but if there are updates from the visiting side, we'll definitely post them right here at Game Day Central. As for the home team, we'll have the Jackets' morning skate covered as usual so make sure you're refreshing this page...lineup news, starting goalies, quotes from the room, video, you name it. Only one place to get it.
RANGERS 4 | BLUE JACKETS 2
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- Ryan Murray post game
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While it was difficult to think of any major plot lines heading into Thursday's game in Columbus (kidding), we do have an update on the expected rosters for both teams. The Rangers come into the game having played last night at home against the Penguins, and having started Henrik Lundqvist last night, they're expected to go with back-up goalie Cam Talbot against the Blue Jackets.
Todd Richards confirmed following Wednesday's practice that Sergei Bobrovsky will return to the net against the Rangers after two good days of practice with goaltending coach Ian Clark. After missing Tuesday's game and practice on Wednesday, Richards said there's a possibility that Nick Foligno will be able to play on Thursday.
There are plenty of former Blue Jackets and Rangers on both sides of the ice, more so than Richards can remember for one game. One notable absence is that of Rick Nash, who has missed last dozen games (concussion) as the result of an elbow to the head from San Jose's Brad Stuart. As of Wednesday, the Rangers reiterated that there is no change or update to Nash's status and he is definitely out of the lineup for this first Rangers-Blue Jackets showdown.
With back-to-back games against Metropolitan Division opponents on the docket, time is of the essence for the Blue Jackets to right the ship. In fact, their next six games are against Eastern Conference competition where the race for playoff positioning is wide-open, making the acquisition of points (and most importantly, wins) the top item on their list of priorities.
The Blue Jackets have not picked up a point in the standings since beating the Toronto Maple Leafs at Nationwide Arena on Oct. 25, and while they're still very much in the divisional playoff race, the need for points is growing by the day. What they don't want is a repeat of 2013, when they had to put a 19-5-5 run together just to stay in the conversation down the stretch.
One thing to watch for is the special teams battle: the Blue Jackets saw an uptick in that department on Tuesday night, scoring a power play goal (1-for-4 overall) against the Senators and putting up a spotless performance on the penalty kill (4-for-4). As Brandon Dubinsky said on Wednesday, the team that wins the special teams battle is usually the team that wins the hockey game - and the Blue Jackets, while still seeking consistent production from their power play, feel like they're trending in the right direction.
They'll start Bobrovsky between the pipes in an effort to get him back to top form, as well, after McElhinney filled in admirably for a pair of starts against Pittsburgh and Ottawa. Bobrovsky has turned in some solid performances this season but has also struggled at times, but Clark said earlier this week that the issues with the reigning Vezina Trophy winner aren't anything that a few tweaks can't solve.
Bobrovsky and the Blue Jackets face a Rangers club that sputtered out of the gates in 2013-14 but has steadied in the last couple of weeks. Under new head coach Alain Vigneault, the Rangers are playing a slightly different style of game than they did under John Tortorella but their roster remains largely the same; they're anchored in goal by one of the best in the business in Henrik Lundqvist, and their team defense is one of the Rangers' biggest strengths.
After struggling to generate offense during a season-opening, nine-game road trip, the Rangers have found a bit of offense in their last few games. Derek Stepan recorded a hat trick (second of his career) in the Rangers' 5-1 win over Carolina - a far cry from their low point, a 9-2 loss to San Jose early in the season.
For many reasons and for both teams, Thursday's game is an important one.
vs. NEW YORK ISLANDERS
SATURDAY, 7 P.M.