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Posted On Monday, 04.28.2014 / 1:23 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Blue Jackets without Umberger for Game 6

COLUMBUS -- Columbus Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards might have been thinking of how he'll match up with the Pittsburgh Penguins later Monday night in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference First Round series when he committed a slip of the tongue: He actually revealed why left wing RJ Umberger would not play Monday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT) at Nationwide Arena instead of giving the "upper body" or "lower body" answer standard during the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"Shoulder, sorry, not feeling great … a little slip there," he said to laughter by the media. "Not feeling great, not 100 percent."

Richards regained his footing to not reveal the injury that will also keep defenseman Nikita Nikitin out of the lineup. There are no other changes expected.

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Posted On Sunday, 04.27.2014 / 3:49 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Facing elimination, Jackets enjoying underdog role

COLUMBUS -- Pressure? What pressure?

Facing elimination Monday from the Eastern Conference First Round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Columbus Blue Jackets insist they can handle what lies ahead in Game 6 at Nationwide Arena (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT).

In fact, a day after the Penguins' 3-1 victory in Game 5 on Saturday at Consol Energy Center for a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 series, Columbus coach Todd Richards used different terminology to describe the Blue Jackets' situation.

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Posted On Sunday, 04.27.2014 / 3:36 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Blue Jackets plan to crowd, distract Fleury in Game 6

COLUMBUS -- In the wake of goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky being bombarded with 50 shots while being pushed, knocked down and high-sticked in Game 5, the Columbus Blue Jackets promise to make life difficult at the other end of the ice for the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 6 on Monday at Nationwide Arena.

The Penguins took a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round series with a 3-1 home victory Saturday by limiting the Blue Jackets to 24 shots on Marc-Andre Fleury while being all over Bobrovsky.

Columbus plans to change that Monday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT).

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Posted On Friday, 04.25.2014 / 3:50 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Blue Jackets' mantra: 2 wins down, 14 to go

COLUMBUS -- Jared Boll remembers the first time the Columbus Blue Jackets made the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2009 in the eighth season of the franchise.

How could he forget? The longest-tenured Blue Jackets forward had not been back until this season.

That first foray five years ago resulted in a four-game loss to the Detroit Red Wings and the excitement was over in eight days.

This postseason has been unlike that short-lived run five years ago.

The Blue Jackets are tied 2-2 with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference First Round best-of-7 seven series with Game 5 on Saturday at Consol Energy Center (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT).

"[2009] was the first time this franchise ever made the playoffs," Boll said. "Obviously it was a goal of ours to make it and we made it.

"This year it's different. We're here now and expect to do good things. We're not satisfied with just making the playoffs."

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Posted On Friday, 04.25.2014 / 2:54 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Blue Jackets' Tyutin more likely to return in Game 5

COLUMBUS -- The news is mixed for two of the Columbus Blue Jackets' injured top-six defensemen.

Rookie Ryan Murray did not participate in practice Friday and is likely to miss a second straight game when the Eastern Conference First Round series returns to Pittsburgh for Game 5 on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT) at Consol Energy Center.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs best-of-7 series is tied at 2-2.

Murray was seen by a member of the media with a boot on his right foot prior to Game 4 on Wednesday in Columbus after leaving the morning skate early.

"Losing Murray is a big setback for us, but guys have stepped up and played some really good hockey," center Ryan Johansen said.

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Posted On Thursday, 04.24.2014 / 4:28 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Day after rally, Richards sees Blue Jackets refocused

COLUMBUS -- Todd Richards knows his players well enough that the Columbus Blue Jackets coach is confident they're ready to move on from the Game 4 overtime victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday in their Eastern Conference First Round series.

Brandon Dubinsky tied the score 3-3 with 24 seconds left in regulation and Nick Foligno thrilled the overflow crowd of 18,970 at Nationwide Arena with the winner at 2:49 of overtime to even the Stanley Cup Playoffs best-of-7 series at 2-2.

"I think our group is really focused on the next game," Richards said Thursday. "Early on in the year, I'm talking regular season, that was something we needed to learn and understand how to deal with success.

"There's an obvious high coming out of the last game, a good feeling coming out of last night's game, and I think our players will enjoy it today. They should, but we come in tomorrow and put it behind us and get ready for the next game."

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.23.2014 / 7:08 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Blue Jackets defenseman Murray out for Game 4

COLUMBUS -- Defenseman Ryan Murray was scratched from the Columbus Blue Jackets lineup for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference First Round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday, possibly because of an injury sustained during the morning skate when a shot hit his right foot.

Coach Todd Richards said after practice that Murray would play, but the rookie was not out for the warm-ups at Nationwide Arena, and defenseman Nick Schultz was paired with Dalton Prout. Nikita Nikitin will likely take Murray's spot as James Wisniewski's defense partner.


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Posted On Wednesday, 04.23.2014 / 1:28 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Blue Jackets plan no changes to Game 4 lineup

COLUMBUS -- Rookie defenseman Ryan Murray will be in the Columbus Blue Jackets lineup Wednesday for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference First Round series even though he left the morning skate early, coach Todd Richards said.

Murray underwent arthroscopic knee surgery March 7 and missed 15 games before returning April 4 against the Chicago Blackhawks. He played five more games, then sat the regular season finale April 12 against the Florida Panthers as a precaution.

He has played the first three games of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Pittsburgh Penguins and has one assist while averaging 25:18 minutes of ice time.

Game 4 is 7 p.m. ET at Nationwide Arena (NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT).

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.23.2014 / 1:16 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Holding leads no easy task for Penguins, Blue Jackets

COLUMBUS -- The Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets won't shy away from trying to score first or take a two-goal lead in Game 4, even though those situations seem cursed. Pittsburgh holds a 2-1 edge in the Eastern Conference First Round best-of-7 series that seems uncommon by Stanley Cup Playoff standards.

Columbus has twice scored the first goal and increased its lead to 3-1 before losing Game 1 and Game 3 by 4-3 scores. The Penguins scored first and led 3-1 in Game 2 but lost 4-3 in double overtime for the Blue Jackets' first playoff win in franchise history.

So what can be expected Wednesday in Game 4 at Nationwide Arena (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT)?

"A 3-1 lead is good. I'll take a 3-1 lead any day in the playoffs," Columbus left wing Matt Calvert said. "It's kind of an interesting series. The team with the 3-1 lead seems to lose it. We've got to treat it like any regular-season game. Whether we're up or trailing, we have to keep fighting."

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.22.2014 / 5:29 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Penguins getting scoring from lesser lights

COLUMBUS -- No Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz, Evgeni Malkin nor James Neal in the goal column?

No problem so far for the Pittsburgh Penguins, who hope to continue spreading the scoring if necessary to put a stranglehold on their Eastern Conference First Round series in Game 4 at Nationwide Arena on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT).

The Penguins lead the best-of-7 series 2-1 and have 11 goals from seven players. Defenseman Matt Niskanen and forwards Brian Gibbons, Jussi Jokinen and Brandon Sutter each has two goals.

Crosby has extended his goal-scoring drought during the past two postseasons to eight games. Malkin's drought is at seven.

"We've gotten big goals from a lot of different people so far," forward Lee Stempniak said. "It's just a testament of how deep our team is."

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.22.2014 / 4:50 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Bouncing back a familiar refrain for Blue Jackets

COLUMBUS -- The day after what could have been a devastating defeat instead saw the Columbus Blue Jackets looking forward to Game 4 of their Eastern Conference First Round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday at Nationwide Arena (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT).

Columbus held a 3-1 lead in the third period of Game 3 before the Penguins scored three goals 2:13 apart Monday to grab a 2-1 advantage in the best-of-7 Stanley Cup Playoff series.

"Those are games you can't let slip away," Columbus forward RJ Umberger said. "We've got to regroup and come back for Game 4 with the same start and find the way to win.

"We're a confident group in here. We feel we've been close with them all year and feel this is a series that's going to go the distance. It's going to be a hard-fought battle here. There's still a lot of hockey left."

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Posted On Monday, 04.21.2014 / 2:16 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Blue Jackets' Tyutin out, but Foligno set to return

COLUMBUS – The Columbus Blue Jackets will be missing defenseman Fedor Tyutin for Game 3 of their Eastern Conference First Round series Monday against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Nationwide Arena (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT).

Gibbons and Tyutin were injured Saturday during the Blue Jackets' 4-3 double overtime win that evened the series at 1-1.

Columbus, coming off the first postseason win in franchise history, will have wing Nick Foligno in the lineup after he sat the past seven games with a lower-body injury. Foligno had 18 goals in the regular season.

"He's going to come in and provide a little spark for us," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. "There's some different elements that Nick brings. Nick can play different ways based on the skill set. He's big. He can skate. He's got a physical edge to him."

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Posted On Sunday, 04.20.2014 / 6:31 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Columbus has Blue Jackets fever after Game 2 win

COLUMBUS -- The cell phones in the Columbus Blue Jackets' dressing room at Center Energy Center started going crazy at 10:46 p.m. Saturday after Matt Calvert scored the winner in the second overtime for a historic 4-3 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Not only did Calvert's goal enable the Blue Jackets to even the Eastern Conference First Round series at a one game apiece, it was their first victory in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since entering the NHL as an expansion team for the 2000-01 season.

Obviously, the win meant a lot to the long-suffering fans, and the players could sense their joy from 185 miles to the east in Pittsburgh.

"It's huge," Columbus center Ryan Johansen said. "You just look at reading Twitter after the game, as simple as that, and seeing the excitement around the city."


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Posted On Sunday, 04.20.2014 / 6:16 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

No update on Blue Jackets' Tyutin; Foligno may return

COLUMBUS -- Columbus Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards didn't divulge any reasons in his postgame briefing Saturday why defenseman Fedor Tyutin left after one period of the Blue Jackets' 4-3 double overtime victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference First Round series at Consol Energy Center.

He remained secretive Sunday.

"No update on Fedor," Richards said. "We aren't going to get into injuries or what's going on with guys. You guys can ask all you want."

He generally has been forthcoming this season, but this is the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Columbus and Pittsburgh are tied at one game apiece heading into Game 3 Monday at Nationwide Arena (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT).


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Posted On Friday, 04.18.2014 / 2:34 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Murray embodies pluck of Blue Jackets' young talent

COLUMBUS -- Bloodied but undeterred describes the Stanley Cup Playoff experience for rookie defenseman Ryan Murray, one of 11 Columbus Blue Jackets players who made their postseason debuts Wednesday.

Murray took a hard but clean check by Pittsburgh Penguins forward Beau Bennett midway through the first period in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round best-of-7 series won by the Penguins 4-3.

The collision sent Murray to the bench with blood streaming from his nose that had to be plugged, but he returned to rack up 23:50 of ice time and his plus-1 rating was the only positive number among the Blue Jackets' six defensemen.

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Posted On Friday, 04.18.2014 / 2:18 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Foligno could join Umberger in returning for Jackets

COLUMBUS -- After saying Thursday that Columbus Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno would not play Game 2 of their Eastern Conference First Round series, a day later coach Todd Richards is reconsidering.

Foligno, who has missed the past six games with a knee injury, had another excellent practice Friday and may make it hard for Richards to keep him out of the lineup when the Blue Jackets again chase the franchise's first Stanley Cup Playoff win Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT) against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Consol Energy Center.

The Penguins won Game 1 of the best-of-7 series 4-3 on Wednesday.

Richards will consult with athletic trainer Mike Vogt and Foligno after the morning skate Saturday.

"If you ask Nick, he wants to play tomorrow, but we've got to make the right decision," Richards said. "Sometimes you have to intervene because they just want to play. You don't want to put them in a risky position where they can make it worse."

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Posted On Thursday, 04.17.2014 / 3:38 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Jackets' Umberger possible for Game 2, Foligno out

COLUMBUS -- Protocol dictates RJ Umberger's return to the Columbus Blue Jackets lineup from an upper-body injury will be decided after consultation between him, the medical staff and coach Todd Richards.

Otherwise, the forward would have been on the ice Wednesday for the Blue Jackets' 4-3 loss at the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"If it was up to me I would have played last night," Umberger said Thursday when asked if he'll be ready for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference First Round series Saturday at Consol Energy Center (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS, FS-O, ROOT).

Forward Nick Foligno (knee) said he is close to being cleared to play as well, but Richards offered a different opinion on his status.

"Foligno won't be in the lineup Saturday," he said. "We're hoping possibly Monday for Game 3. We're going to see how practice goes Friday for RJ. There's a possibility he can play in Game 2."

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.15.2014 / 3:32 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Penguins-Blue Jackets series blog

Dubinsky, Murray return to Blue Jackets practice

COLUMBUS -- There were two numbers of interest among the media attending Columbus Blue Jackets practice Tuesday: 17 and 27.

Those numerals belonged to center Brandon Dubinsky and rookie defenseman Ryan Murray, respectively. They happened to be the two uninjured players who were given maintenance days Monday by coach Todd Richards while the rest of the Blue Jackets prepared to open their Eastern Conference First Round Stanley Cup Playoffs series against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday at Consol Energy Center (7:30 p.m. ET, CBC, NBCSN).

There was speculation Murray might be ailing a bit after he sat out the regular-season finale Saturday at the Florida Panthers because he only recently returned from missing a month following arthroscopic knee surgery. Dubinsky had a gimpy knee from a collision in the Florida game.

But Murray and Dubinsky joined their teammates in a vigorous workout Tuesday in the practice facility adjacent to Nationwide Arena. A few aches and pains won't keep them out of the lineup.

"I had some opportunity to take some time off the ice, so I took advantage of it," Murray said. "At this point of the season you've got to get ready no matter what. I feel good. I'm ready to go."

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.08.2014 / 1:22 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Horton returns at opportune time for Blue Jackets

COLUMBUS -- Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Nathan Horton is expected to reunite with linemates Boone Jenner and Ryan Johansen for the game Tuesday against the visiting Phoenix Coyotes.

Horton has missed the past four games because of a lower-body injury, but his return comes at an opportune time with the Blue Jackets losing forwards Nick Foligno and RJ Umberger to injuries in the past week.

Johansen, the Blue Jackets' leading scorer with 57 points (31 goals), is looking forward to centering for Horton again with the rookie Jenner manning the left wing.

"We've played a lot of good hockey together, me and Horts and Boone," Johansen said. "It's nice being back with [Horton] and him being healthy, or healthier."

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Posted On Sunday, 04.06.2014 / 12:51 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Grabner, de Haan out for Islanders vs. Blue Jackets

COLUMBUS – New York Islanders defenseman Calvin de Haan (lower body) and forward Michael Grabner (upper body) will each miss the game Sunday against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

De Haan and Grabner were hurt during a 4-3 shootout loss to the Washington Capitals on Saturday, prompting the recalls of defenseman Scott Mayfield and forward Johan Sundstrom from Bridgeport of the American Hockey League.

Grabner was playing in his first game since sustaining a concussion March 10 against the Vancouver Canucks and had to leave in the second period. The Islanders (31-35-11) are also without injured players including John Tavares, Eric Boulton and Kyle Okposo, but are 5-0-2 in the past seven games.

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Posted On Friday, 04.04.2014 / 1:25 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blue Jackets get Murray back, but lose Foligno

COLUMBUS -- The Columbus Blue Jackets welcome rookie defenseman Ryan Murray back to the lineup Friday against the Chicago Blackhawks but have lost left wing Nick Foligno to injury for the rest of the regular season.

Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said after the optional morning skate he hopes Foligno, injured late in the 2-0 win Thursday at the Philadelphia Flyers after a collision with Flyers forward Scott Hartnell, will be ready if Columbus makes the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

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Posted On Tuesday, 04.01.2014 / 1:43 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

MacKinnon in for Duchene on Avalanche top line

COLUMBUS -- With Colorado Avalanche Matt Duchene out of the lineup for roughly four weeks, rookie Nathan MacKinnon will be the center of attention Tuesday against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.

The 18-year-old moves into the top center spot vacated by Duchene, who sustained a knee injury on his first shift Saturday against the San Jose Sharks when he collided with linemate Jamie McGinn.

MacKinnon leads all NHL rookies in goals (23), assists (33) and points (56). On Tuesday he'll be in the middle with Ryan O'Reilly to his left and McGinn at right wing.

Center is the natural position for MacKinnon, who has spent most of the season at right wing after being selected by the Avalanche with the first pick of the 2013 NHL Draft.

"I'm comfortable at center," MacKinnon said. "I'm comfortable at wing as well. Down the road I might end up back at wing. We'll see how it goes [Tuesday]. Hopefully we can create some early chemistry and play pretty well."

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Posted On Friday, 03.28.2014 / 1:10 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blue Jackets' McElhinney to start against Penguins

COLUMBUS -- A streak of 19 straight starts for Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky will end Friday against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Nationwide Arena.

Bobrovsky, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner, is feeling the lingering effects of the flu that forced him out of the game Tuesday after one period against the Detroit Red Wings and will not dress.

Curtis McElhinney relieved Bobrovsky, who allowed one goal on 10 shots against Detroit. McElhinney stopped 22 of 23 Red Wings shots in the 4-2 win and will start against the Penguins. Mike McKenna, recalled from the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League, will be the backup.

Bobrovsky did not practice Thursday or participate in the optional skate Friday morning but he did get on the ice to work with goalie coach Ian Clark about 15 minutes after most players left.

"I feel a little bit better," Bobrovsky said. "I feel weakness. My throat's sore. I have low energy. We decided between the doctors and coaches not to play this game."

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.25.2014 / 1:10 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Callahan latest Red Wings rookie to debut

COLUMBUS -- Left wing Mitch Callahan appears set Tuesday to become the eighth Detroit Red Wings player this season to make his NHL debut when the Red Wings face the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Callahan was called up Monday from the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League, while rookie center Landon Ferraro was sent down.

Detroit coach Mike Babcock hedged in committing to play Callahan in the key Eastern Conference showdown at Nationwide Arena. The Blue Jackets trail the Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs by two points for one of the Eastern Conference wild-card spots into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"We'll see what's available here [Tuesday], but that's my plan," Babcock said after the morning skate. "He's got some goals in the minors. He's a tough kid. He seems to know how to play. He's a good penalty killer. We're going to watch him, give him an opportunity and see how he does."

Callahan said he was told he would be in the lineup.

"As of right now it looks like I am," he said. "I don't want to jinx anything."

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Posted On Friday, 03.21.2014 / 1:54 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Rangers' Pouliot back after birth of daughter

COLUMBUS -- The New York Rangers are rested and expected to go with the same lineup used in an 8-4 defeat of the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday.

That includes forward Benoit Pouliot, who left after the game in Ottawa to be present for the birth of his daughter. He rejoined the Rangers for the optional skate Friday morning and coach Alain Vigneault said Pouliot would be in the lineup.

It could be a different tale for the Columbus Blue Jackets, who defeated the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 on Thursday and returned from Canada in the early hours Friday.

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.18.2014 / 1:40 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Looking for spark, Hurricanes pair Staals, recall Terry

COLUMBUS -- Looking for a spark after losing nine of the past 12 games and falling behind in the Stanley Cup Playoffs chase, Carolina Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller scrambled the lines for his team's game Tuesday at the Columbus Blue Jackets and put the Staal brothers together.

Based on the morning skate, center Jordan Staal will have older brother Eric Staal to his left and Alexander Semin on his right.

Muller said he has paired the Staals on a few occasions this season, most recently during a 5-4 loss March 8 to the New Jersey Devils.

"The three times they have been together there's been some signs of success," Muller said. "I figure we have to have a little bit of a different look and put the onus on our top guys and throw them together.

"Three guys like that on a line should get some production and lead the charge."

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Posted On Thursday, 03.13.2014 / 1:37 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blue Jackets will be without Anisimov against Sharks

COLUMBUS -- Columbus Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards already needed to replace right wing Blake Comeau because of a suspension. But they will also be without their second-leading goal scorer, Artem Anisimov, Thursday against the San Jose Sharks.

The center missed the morning skate to be with his wife, Ksenia Anisimova, for the birth of their first child. The Columbus Dispatch reported the baby was born Thursday and Anisimov will miss the game.

"Arte's got something more important going on right now than playing hockey," Richards said. "We're assuming he's not going to be in the lineup tonight."

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.11.2014 / 7:09 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Howard ill; Mrazek starts in goal for Red Wings

COLUMBUS -- Goaltender Jimmy Howard was a late scratch for the Detroit Red Wings Tuesday against the Columbus Blue Jackets because of the flu. Backup Petr Mrazek will start because Jonas Gustavsson is out with a neck injury.

Mrazek is 1-3-0 in seven games with a 1.64 goals against average. His last NHL game was Jan. 20. Howard dressed as his backup.

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.11.2014 / 1:40 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Thinking of Peverley, Blue Jackets prep for Red Wings

COLUMBUS -- Knowing Dallas Stars center Rich Peverley is recovering after collapsing on the bench during their game Monday will help the Columbus Blue Jackets move on and prepare better for an important Eastern Conference game Tuesday against the Detroit Red Wings at Nationwide Arena.

"The show goes on, but the good thing is that Rich Peverley is doing OK," Columbus left wing Nick Foligno said.

The game in Dallas was halted with 13:37 to play in the first period when Peverley collapsed on the bench after his shift. He was carried to the hallway leading to the Dallas locker room where aid, including chest compressions and a defibrillator, were used. He then was transported to a hospital, where the Stars said he is in stable condition.

Columbus was leading 1-0 at the time on a Nathan Horton goal. The game was postponed and a decision about the remainder of the game is to be determined by the NHL.

Peverley had an offseason procedure to correct an irregular heartbeat and missed all of training camp and the first game of the season, Oct. 3 against the Florida Panthers. He also missed the Stars' game in Columbus on March 4 because he said he didn't feel well enough to fly and coach Lindy Ruff later said it was related to Peverley's heart condition.

Peverley returned to play the next two games.

"We were there," Columbus coach Todd Richards said. "It's something different if you're distanced from it. Not that it doesn't affect you, because I think it affected everyone, but we were right in the middle of it."

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.04.2014 / 1:13 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blue Jackets minus Murray against Stars

COLUMBUS -- The Dallas Stars and Columbus Blue Jackets go into their game Tuesday in Nationwide Arena tired and banged-up after playing the previous night.

For Columbus, rookie defenseman Ryan Murray will not play after sustaining a lower-body injury Monday against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Murray, third among Columbus defensemen with a plus-4 rating, appeared to hurt his knee or ankle after being checked along the boards in the second period and did not come back for the duration of the 2-1 victory.

"Lower body, day-to-day," coach Todd Richards said when asked three times about Murray's status Tuesday morning.

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Posted On Saturday, 03.01.2014 / 9:36 AM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blue Jackets' Gaborik returns to top line

COLUMBUS -- Playing with some consistency going into the 19-day break for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Columbus Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards didn't want to wreck all his lines to make way for the return from injury of Marian Gaborik against the New Jersey Devils on Thursday in the first post-Sochi game.

Gaborik had been out since Dec. 21 and Richards was unsure how he would respond to his first action in nine weeks so the skilled right wing was placed on the fourth line with grinders Derek MacKenzie and Mark Letestu.

"Our line combinations seemed to be working well," Richards said Friday, a day after a 5-2 loss to the Devils. "Prior to the Olympics we were playing good hockey, good structure. We didn't see much of that in [the game Thursday]."

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Posted On Saturday, 02.01.2014 / 12:52 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Columbus' Gaborik skates but not close to returning

COLUMBUS -- The Columbus Blue Jackets play their final home game Saturday before a three-game trip to the West Coast concludes their pre-Sochi Olympics schedule.

Injured forward Marian Gaborik will travel with the team but he will not play any games for the Blue Jackets until after the Olympics, coach Todd Richards said.

Richards also said it has not been determined if Gaborik, who suffered a broken collarbone against the Philadelphia Flyers on Dec. 21 and underwent surgery three days later, will be medically cleared to play for the Slovakian Olympic team as he did in 2006 and 2010.

Gaborik was on the ice with the team at the tail end of practice Saturday morning for the first time in more than a month and did some shooting and skating but did not participate in drills.

After hosting the Florida Panthers on Saturday, the Blue Jackets play at the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles King and San Jose Sharks before the Olympic break.

Richards is targeting Gaborik's return to the Blue Jackets for the first game after the break Feb. 27 at the New Jersey Devils but said that is tenuous.

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Posted On Thursday, 01.30.2014 / 1:20 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Looking to end skid, Blue Jackets adjust lines

COLUMBUS -- Teams familiar with streaks good and bad will play Thursday at Nationwide Arena when the Columbus Blue Jackets host the Washington Capitals.

The Capitals have won two straight after a 0-5-2 stretch, with the final five losses coming in regulation. Included was a 5-1 defeat in Columbus on Jan. 17 that was the Blue Jackets' fifth win of a team-record eight-game winning streak.

Since winning those eight straight games, however, the Blue Jackets have lost three in a row.

"We need to stop it now while we're still in the race," Columbus forward Nathan Horton said.

Columbus (26-23-4) and Washington (24-21-8) each have 56 points, but the Blue Jackets own the fifth spot in the Metropolitan Division because of more regulation/overtime wins.

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.28.2014 / 1:59 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Minor injury sidelines Senators veteran Phillips

COLUMBUS -- Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean said veteran Chris Phillips has played a major part in the development of rookie defense partner Cody Ceci in Ceci's first 20 NHL games.

But Phillips, Ottawa's active leader in games played (1,122), won't be in the lineup Tuesday when the Senators play the Columbus Blue Jackets in Nationwide Arena. He suffered what MacLean called a minor injury in the previous game at the Carolina Hurricanes and will be replaced by Patrick Wiercioch.

"A reason a young player can come up and have the success that he has is because [Ceci] gets to play with a guy like Chris Phillips," MacLean said.

Ceci, a native of Ottawa and the Senators' first pick (No. 15) in the 2012 NHL Draft, has one goal, four assists and a plus-2 rating in 20 games.

"I've enjoyed my time here," Ceci said. "The older guys have really helped me out."

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Posted On Saturday, 01.25.2014 / 1:14 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blue Jackets going for nine, could be without Savard

COLUMBUS -- There hasn't been need to change a successful lineup, not with a team-record eight-game winning streak, but the Columbus Blue Jackets could be without one of their unsung players Saturday against the visiting Buffalo Sabres if defenseman David Savard is out due to illness.

He was the only Columbus player not at the morning skate and coach Todd Richards said it will be a game-time decision for the 23-year-old from St. Hyacinthe, Quebec.

Defenseman Cody Goloubef was recalled under emergency conditions from the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League because the Blue Jackets had no extra defensemen on the roster.

Goloubef, the nephew of Hockey Hall of Fame forward Dick Duff, has played 12 NHL games and scored his lone goal Feb. 11, 2013, against the San Jose Sharks. This season for the Falcons he has six goals, 14 assists and a plus-9 rating in 41 games.


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Posted On Thursday, 01.23.2014 / 1:06 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Flyers' Mason to watch Blue Jackets reach milestone

COLUMBUS -- Unless the teams meet in the playoffs, Philadelphia Flyers goalie Steve Mason will have to wait until next season for his first start in Nationwide Arena against his former team.

Mason, traded to the Flyers in April after five seasons with Columbus Blue Jackets, was a victim of the heavy snowfall Tuesday in Philadelphia that forced the postponement of the game against the Carolina Hurricanes.

He was in goal for the rescheduled game Wednesday and lost 3-2. Since Flyers coach Craig Berube has been pretty consistent in not playing his goalies on consecutive nights he opted to go with Ray Emery on Thursday against the Blue Jackets.

"It's the way the weather situation worked out," Mason said. "Had it not snowed I was going to be starting here. The way this year has gone with back-to-backs, and [Emery] has been playing well lately, there's plenty more opportunities for me."


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Posted On Tuesday, 01.21.2014 / 2:00 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Jones to start for Kings against Blue Jackets

COLUMBUS -- The Los Angeles Kings will turn to rookie goalie Martin Jones to stop the streaking Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday.

Jonathan Quick, named to the United States team for the 2014 Sochi Olympics next month, had started eight straight games (4-2-2) after missing 24 games with a groin strain. He had 20 saves in a 3-2 loss at the Boston Bruins on Monday and is expected to be rested for back-to-back games against the Anaheim Ducks this week.

Jones filled in admirably in Quick's absence, winning his first eight decisions to tie an NHL record. He is 8-3-0 with a .950 save percentage.

"[Jones] is a guy probably nobody even knew about and he gets an opportunity to play and is running with it and doing well," Kings center Colin Fraser said. "Sometimes that's how you make the NHL."

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Posted On Friday, 01.17.2014 / 1:14 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blue Jackets may be minus Tyutin against Capitals

COLUMBUS -- The anticipated reunion of five members of the Russian team for the 2014 Sochi Olympics could be minus one if Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Fedor Tyutin is not sufficiently recovered from the flu Friday to play against the Washington Capitals.

"We haven't ruled him out," Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said. "He was feeling better last night. He woke up this morning and wasn't feeling better. We'll take a look at him later. We'll make the call then. It's not looking good that he'll play."

Defenseman Dalton Prout, recalled Thursday from a conditioning reassignment to the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League, would replace Tyutin, who has four goals and 15 assists and is minus-1 in 43 games.

"If (Tyutin) isn't playing we're all going to be chipping in and contributing playing against their top guys," Columbus defenseman Jack Johnson said.


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Posted On Monday, 01.13.2014 / 1:17 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Bishop expected to back up Lindback for Lightning

COLUMBUS -- Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop is close to returning from a sprained right wrist that has kept him out of the past three games but all indications are backup Anders Lindback will play Monday against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

"No, I don't think so," was the response from Lightning coach Jon Cooper when asked after the morning skate if Bishop was ready. "We're going to give him a workout today and see how it goes. If not tonight, he's definitely a possibly for tomorrow (at the New York Rangers)."

The plan appears to be for Bishop to serve as the backup, though. Cedrick Desjardins told reporters he was going back to Syracuse of the American Hockey League Monday afternoon.

Bishop is 22-5-3 with a 1.86 goals-against average and was being pushed by some to be named to U.S. team for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, but he was not selected. Lindback is 5-9-1 with a 3.17 GAA and made 35 saves in a 6-3 win at the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.

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Posted On Friday, 01.10.2014 / 12:55 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blue Jackets get Calvert back, lose Comeau to IR

COLUMBUS -- It's been one skate forward and one skate back for much of the season for the Columbus Blue Jackets as far as injures, and Friday against the streaking Carolina Hurricanes will be no different.

Forward Matt Calvert will return after missing seven games with an upper-body injury sustained Dec. 21 against the Philadelphia Flyers, but forward Blake Comeau was put on injured reserve Friday and will miss 4-6 weeks after spraining a knee ligament Thursday in practice.

"A lot of teams have injuries and that's not an excuse," Columbus forward Nathan Horton said. "But it seems like all year when somebody gets hurt and comes back, somebody else gets hurt."

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Posted On Sunday, 12.29.2013 / 12:29 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Penguins, Blue Jackets dealing with key injuries

COLUMBUS -- Even though the Pittsburgh Penguins have 11 more wins and 19 more points than the Columbus Blue Jackets, the new Metropolitan Division rivals are similar in one regard heading into the game Sunday at Nationwide Arena: Each has had to deal with injuries to key players.

The Penguins (28-11-1) sit atop the Eastern Conference but have been without forward Evgeni Malkin (lower body) the past six games, lost backup goaltender Tomas Vokoun (blood clot) before the season and have had their top four defensemen injured at various points of the season among the 219 man-games lost.

Columbus is minus forwards Marian Gaborik and Matt Calvert and is awaiting the first game for offseason free-agent signee Nathan Horton, who underwent shoulder surgery in July but could debut during the upcoming four-game trip.

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Posted On Saturday, 12.21.2013 / 1:18 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Gaborik, Wisniewski returning for Blue Jackets

COLUMBUS -- The return from injuries Saturday of forward Marian Gaborik and defenseman James Wisniewski not only will solidify the Columbus Blue Jackets' lineup but could provide a needed psychological boost two days after blowing a big third-period lead to the Philadelphia Flyers.

"I hope that's the case," Wisniewski said.

The last of Wisniewski's six games missed (upper body) was Thursday when the Blue Jackets (14-17-4) allowed five goals in the third and lost 5-4 at Philadelphia. The rematch is Saturday in Nationwide Arena.

"As soon as that buzzer went, everyone was looking forward to the next game and getting back after it," Columbus defenseman Ryan Murray said.

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Posted On Monday, 12.16.2013 / 1:27 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Jets look to Kane for spark in return from injury

COLUMBUS -- Winnipeg Jets left wing Evander Kane hopes his return Monday at the Columbus Blue Jackets can help put an end to a three-game winless streak.

Kane has missed the past six games since Dec. 2 with a lower-body injury, but will play alongside new linemates in Mark Scheifele and Michael Frolik.

"Getting the legs going is probably the biggest thing, hopefully feeling the puck early on and putting the puck in their zone," Kane said. "Getting on the forecheck and getting some scoring opportunities is what I'm trying to do the first period."

Kane had seven goals and seven assists in 26 games before the injury. The Jets (14-15-5) went 2-3-1 in his absence.

"It will be good to get him back in the game," Winnipeg coach Claude Noel said. "He just needs to get himself going the best he can. How much he'll play is to be determined by different factors. He's a guy that can have an impact on the game and create some offense."

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Posted On Saturday, 12.14.2013 / 1:49 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

McKenna to start against hometown Blues

COLUMBUS -- Some goaltenders don't like to talk to the media the morning of a start.

That has never been an issue for Mike McKenna of the Columbus Blue Jackets, who spoke for more than 15 minutes with reporters in front of his locker in Nationwide Arena on Saturday.

The affable McKenna has quite a story to tell. Because of injuries to starter Sergei Bobrovsky and backup Curtis McElhinney, the journeyman minor-leaguer will face his hometown St. Louis Blues in his first NHL start since Nov. 20, 2010.

And who did he face in that game? The Blues, who won 3-2 when McKenna stopped 24 of 27 shots for the New Jersey Devils.

Adding to the intrigue for McKenna, 30, is that his father, Terry, is the official scorer for the Blues and his grandfather, Bill, is considered one of the founding fathers of hockey in St. Louis and is honored in the Blues' amateur hockey hall of fame.

"Playing that first game in St. Louis a few years ago was kind of a shell shock," Mike McKenna said. "There were so many people watching, so much that was riding with it. It's lost some of that now and I'm a few years older too. I'm trying to approach it as much as I can as just another game.

"You have that childhood memory of that team so there's always sentimentality towards it but we're trying to build something here and I'm trying to be a part of that."

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.10.2013 / 1:29 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blue Jackets stick with McElhinney in back-to-back

COLUMBUS -- Curtis McElhinney will start on consecutive nights when the Columbus Blue Jackets host the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday.

He has stopped 56 of 58 shots since replacing injured starter Sergei Bobrovsky in the third period of a 1-0 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Dec. 3. McElhinney then beat the Minnesota Wild 4-0 on Friday but lost 2-1 on Monday at the Pittsburgh Penguins when he made 28 saves.

Still, coach Todd Richards opted to stay with McElhinney instead of going with Mike McKenna, who was called up from the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League last week after Bobrovsky was diagnosed with a groin strain that will keep him out least a month.

Richards also said he will keep the same lineup as the one used at Pittsburgh but hopes to see more scoring chances generated to support McElhinney.

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Posted On Friday, 12.06.2013 / 11:58 AM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blue Jackets don't expect letdown without Bobrovsky

COLUMBUS -- A team can go one of two directions when a top player goes down with an injury.

Columbus Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said he doesn't think his team will go downward after the loss of starting goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky for 4-5 weeks due to a groin strain.

"I'm not worried about [the season] going the other way," he said. "Your team needs to respond under this circumstance. It doesn't really matter who's playing."

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.03.2013 / 7:20 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Lightning's Brewer scratched with lower-body injury

COLUMBUS -- Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Eric Brewer is not in the lineup Tuesday against the Columbus Blue Jackets and is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

Brewer, who did participate in the team's morning skate, leads all Tampa Bay defensemen with a plus-5 rating. He had played in all 26 games and had five assists.


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Posted On Tuesday, 12.03.2013 / 1:19 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Dubinsky back, wants Blue Jackets to show urgency

COLUMBUS -- Columbus Blue Jackets center Brandon Dubinsky returns from injury Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Lightning hoping to stabilize a team that hasn't won two games in a row since late October.

"It's nice to get back in the lineup and try to help this team get back on track and find some consistency and string some wins together," he said.

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Posted On Friday, 11.29.2013 / 1:40 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Russian goalie duel highlights Blue Jackets-Oilers

COLUMBUS – Coming off a 3-0 victory against the Nashville Predators, goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov will start on consecutive nights for the Edmonton Oilers when they play Friday at the Columbus Blue Jackets but the home team has seven other reasons to be wary.

That number was the final margin in the Oilers' 7-0 victory on Nov. 19 - game that still burns in the minds of the Blue Jackets.

"We were embarrassed when we went into Edmonton," Blue Jackets left wing Blake Comeau said. "Everybody remembers that."

Columbus (9-13-3) coach Todd Richards said the defeat was personal.

"As coaches we're able to remember some games," he said. "If this happened two months ago, three months ago you'd still remember it. Maybe as a player it becomes something you don't remember as well but because it was so recent it should be in our players' minds."

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Posted On Wednesday, 11.27.2013 / 1:14 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blue Jackets vow workmanlike effort vs. Predators

COLUMBUS -- Which Columbus Blue Jackets team will show up at Nationwide Arena on Wednesday to face the Nashville Predators?

Anyone who has that answer needs to buy a lottery ticket, because the Blue Jackets were all over the map literally and figuratively on a just-concluded five-game trip across Canada.

It opened with a 4-1 win against the Ottawa Senators followed by a humbling 7-0 defeat to the Edmonton Oilers. Columbus rebounded to defeat the Calgary Flames 2-1 in overtime before falling 6-2 against the Vancouver Canucks.

The final game on the road ended on a good note with a 6-0 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday.

"We seem to not be losing two in a row lately, but the big thing is we've got to find a way to get [ticked] off in the sense we want to win every night," Blue Jackets left wing Matt Calvert said. "That's something I think you'll see tonight. We're going to put the work boots on like we did in Toronto."

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Posted On Friday, 11.15.2013 / 5:06 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blue Jackets' Gaborik (knee) out 4-6 weeks

Columbus Blue Jackets forward Marian Gaborik is expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a sprained knee suffered in the game Thursday against the Boston Bruins.

Gaborik is tied for third on the Blue Jackets in scoring with 11 points. His five goals are tied for the team lead with Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Johansen and Cam Atkinson.

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Posted On Friday, 11.15.2013 / 2:05 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Canadiens welcome Prust back against Blue Jackets

COLUMBUS -- Montreal Canadiens coach Michel Therrien saw enough in practice to know that it would be unwise to keep left wing Brandon Prust out of the lineup any longer.

That's why Prust, who has missed the past 10 games because of a shoulder injury, will play Friday against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.

Therrien said Prust went against defenseman Douglas Murray in 1-on-1 drills Thursday before the team flew to Columbus.

"He felt pretty good," Therrien said after the team's morning skate Friday. "There's no reason for him to be out of the lineup. He battled hard [Thursday] in practice and he's feeling good this morning."

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Posted On Saturday, 11.09.2013 / 1:22 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blue Jackets hope to snap slump against Islanders

COLUMBUS -- The Columbus Blue Jackets took a jolt to the system Thursday in a 4-2 loss to the New York Rangers.

Both coach Todd Richards and forward Brandon Dubinsky used the word "embarrassment" to describe the Blue Jackets' fifth straight loss, which dropped them to 5-10-0.

What followed the next day was a players-only meeting as well as numerous player-coaches conversations.

How that translates to the game Saturday against the New York Islanders at Nationwide Arena is anybody's guess.

"I'll be able to answer that question after the game tonight whether it was a wakeup call or not," Richards said. "The alarm went off for them based on how we practiced but the question for me is if they hit the snooze alarm or did they really wake up?"

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Posted On Thursday, 11.07.2013 / 12:56 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Familiar faces dot rosters of Rangers, Blue Jackets

COLUMBUS -- Even though the Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Rangers are meeting for the first time as Metropolitan Division rivals Thursday there will be many familiar faces in Nationwide Arena.

Both teams will have four players who used to play for the other and former Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel, who was 45-60-18 from 2010-12, is in his first season as Rangers associate head coach.

In addition, Blue Jackets president of hockey operations John Davidson is a former Rangers goalie and longtime broadcaster for the team.


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Posted On Tuesday, 11.05.2013 / 1:38 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

McElhinney back in net for Blue Jackets

COLUMBUS -- There is no goaltending controversy brewing for the Columbus Blue Jackets, just a chance for reigning Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky to hit the reset button according to coach Todd Richards.

As such, Curtis McElhinney will make consecutive starts for the first time this season when the Blue Jackets host the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday. McElhinney stopped 24 of 26 shots in a 3-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday.

"McElhinney's game was good, both his last two games that he's played have been good," Richards said. "The other thing is it gives [Bobrovsky] a couple of days to work on his game."

Bobrovsky, who has a 2.79 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage in 11 games, compared to 2.00 and .932, respectively, when he was named the League's best goalie last season, has been doing extra work with goaltender coach Ian Clark to clean up his game.


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Posted On Saturday, 11.02.2013 / 1:45 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blue Jackets not concerned by Bobrovsky's play

COLUMBUS -- Columbus Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards isn't sure why Sergei Bobrovsky isn't at the level he displayed in winning the Vezina Trophy last season. But he is convinced a turnaround will come.

It just won't start Saturday in Nationwide Arena. Columbus completes a home-and-home on consecutive nights against the Pittsburgh Penguins with Curtis McElhinney making his second start of the season.

Bobrovsky was pulled at 3:01 of the second period Friday after the Penguins (10-4-0) jumped to a 3-0 lead on 13 shots. McElhinney stopped 13 of 14 shots in the 4-2 defeat, the second straight for the Blue Jackets (5-7-0) after a three-game winning streak which began when McElhinney defeated the Vancouver Canucks 3-1 on Oct. 20.

"We have full confidence in both goalies," Columbus defenseman James Wisniewski said. "We have to make sure we play the game well and play our style."

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Posted On Sunday, 10.27.2013 / 1:19 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Lineup changes for banged up Ducks, Blue Jackets

COLUMBUS -- The Columbus Blue Jackets and Anaheim Ducks enter their game Sunday at Nationwide Arena banged up from victories on Friday.

While the Ducks won 2-1 in Ottawa, they lost forward Jakob Silfverberg for four-to-six weeks because of a broken right hand, the result of a slash by the Senators' Jared Cowen. Anaheim will also be without center Mathieu Perreault (wrist) on Sunday.

Peter Holland was recalled from Norfolk of the American Hockey League and will play on the fourth line. Kyle Palmieri returns to the lineup and Nick Bonino will move to the second line from the fourth.

"We've got depth," Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said. "That's one great thing this organization has. A guy like Kyle Palmieri hasn't played as many minutes as he likes gets a chance now to step in.

"You can't dwell on injuries. Somebody has to do his job. Now this is Peter Holland's chance. He had a couple before. This might be his best chance to stick with the team forever."

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Posted On Friday, 10.25.2013 / 2:00 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Clarkson ready for long-awaited Maple Leafs debut

COLUMBUS -- Toronto Maple Leafs right wing David Clarkson spent extra time after practices skating … and skating.

Now he's ready put those conditioning drills -- necessitated by a 10-game suspension for leaving the bench to join an altercation during a preseason game -- to use Friday when he makes his Maple Leafs debut against the Columbus Blue Jackets in Nationwide Arena.

"I'm ready to go right away," he said following the morning skate. "I'm the best I've felt throughout this whole camp.

"It's exciting to be back and a part of something and [back] in the locker room. It's the little things you miss not being around the guys. It's been good."

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Posted On Tuesday, 10.22.2013 / 1:41 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Devils stick with Schneider, Jackets go to Bobrovsky

COLUMBUS -- It was easy for New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer to decide who would be in goal Tuesday when his team faces the Columbus Blue Jackets.

In the same manner, Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards didn't lose any sleep over his selection.

But whereas DeBoer is going with Cory Schneider instead of future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur for a second straight game, Richards will return to reigning Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky despite a stellar Columbus debut for backup Curtis McElhinney on Sunday.

"He did a great job," Richards said of McElhinney's 37-save performance in a 3-1 win against the Vancouver Canucks that snapped a four-game losing streak. "He came in under tough circumstances. It was a tough road trip and when you come home the team's playing a back-to-back."

Asked if McElhinney could have made a better first impression, a joking Richards said, "He could have got a shutout."

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Posted On Sunday, 10.20.2013 / 1:20 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Battle of backups likely as Canucks visit Blue Jackets

COLUMBUS -- The game Sunday night between the Vancouver Canucks and the Columbus Blue Jackets is expected to feature the backup goalies as the starters are rested in the second of back-to-back games for both teams.

Curtis McElhinney will make his Blue Jackets debut after watching 2013 Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky play the first seven games, including Saturday night's 4-1 loss at the Washington Capitals, a fourth defeat in a row to drop Columbus to 2-5.

Eddie Lack, whose only appearance was a 5-4 overtime win vs. the Calgary Flames on Oct. 6 in the Canucks' third game, would replace Roberto Luongo. The Canucks (5-3-1) lost 4-3 in a shootout at the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday afternoon.


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Posted On Saturday, 10.12.2013 / 10:47 AM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Blue Jackets' Tyutin set for season debut against Bruins

COLUMBUS -- Watching from the press box is an unfamiliar concept for Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Fedor Tyutin so it's understandable why he's happy the game Saturday against the Boston Bruins in Nationwide Arena is a matinee: the sooner he gets back on the ice the better.

Tyutin played all 48 games last season and at least 80 in each of three of the past four seasons with the Blue Jackets but he missed the first three this season after dealing with a lower-body injury near the end of the preseason.

"After you miss a few games it's exciting to get back with the guys, first with practice and then to play the games," he said.

Coach Todd Richards said Tyutin will play against the Bruins but acknowledged Friday that the deciding which defenseman will sit will be harder than anticipated because of the progress shown by Ryan Murray and David Savard.

After losing the season opener 4-3 to Calgary, the Jackets went on the road to defeat the New York Islanders in a shootout and Thursday in Buffalo bested the Sabres 4-1 as the rookie Murray recorded his first NHL assist.

Murray seems a lock to stay in the lineup and Richards specifically said so will Savard, who was considered the eighth defenseman coming out of training camp, but has two assists and is tied with center Brandon Dubinsky for the team lead with a plus-three rating.

"The way Savard's played, the way Ryan Murray's played - all of those guys have done a good job," Richards said. "That's what you want, your young guys making cases for them to stay in the lineup."

As Richards and his staff ponder who Tyutin replaces, another question is whether Tyutin will pair with Jack Johnson as he did in the preseason games.

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Posted On Friday, 10.04.2013 / 2:18 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Murray, Jenner to make NHL debut for Columbus

COLUMBUS -– The wait is almost over for Blue Jackets fans who want to see the NHL debuts of forward Boone Jenner and defenseman Ryan Murray.

Each will be in the lineup Friday night when Columbus opens the season against the Calgary Flames. Expectations are high for the two rookies as well as the team, which last April lost out on the final Western Conference playoff spot to the Minnesota Wild on a tiebreaker.

A second-round pick (No. 37) in the 2011 NHL Draft, the 20-year-old Jenner was a fan favorite at his first two training camps thanks to his robust play. But he was sent back to Oshawa of the Ontario Hockey League each time.

"I worked really hard in this past offseason," he said. "I thought I could make the jump."

Not only did he make the team but he is on the top line with Brandon Dubinsky and Marian Gaborik.

Murray, the second pick in 2012, had to endure season-ending surgery after a shoulder injury in November while playing in the Western Hockey League.

Tonight, he will be paired with veteran James Wisniewski.

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Posted On Wednesday, 09.11.2013 / 6:02 PM

By Craig Merz -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Training Camp 2013 blog

Gaborik ready for Columbus, unclear for Horton

COLUMBUS -- The Columbus Blue Jackets who are recovering from surgery are progressing as planned, or even better, but that still means forward Nathan Horton will miss a sizable chunk of the season.

There is better news about Marian Gaborik, who will be ready when training camp opens Thursday. Gaborik, acquired from the New York Rangers on April 4, underwent abdominal surgery in early May.

"Gaborik's going to be healthy to start the training camp," general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said. "He's feeling great. He's excited about the year, the full year, and getting a fresh start."

Horton had shoulder surgery shortly after signing a seven-year, $37.1 million contract with the Blue Jackets on July 5. The team knew about the injury, sustained during the Stanley Cup playoffs while playing for the Boston Bruins, at the time of signing.

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Quote of the Day

What we expected is what we got. Very mature young individual that's focused. He is on the right track. He's not only a great hockey individual, but he's a good person off the ice. He seemed to take a leadership role with this group right off the hop and ran away with it, and was vocal, was respectful, was everything it takes to be a Panther. His future looks bright.

— Florida Panthers director of player development Brian Skrudland on defenseman Aaron Ekblad's performance at development camp