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Practice Notes: Replacing Foligno's scoring, leadership won't be easy

Blue Jackets veterans plan to fill the void as a group, including Ryan Murray

by By Brian Hedger JacketsInsider /

JERSEY CITY, N.J. - As far as timing goes, it's not the most ideal point in the NHL season to lose the captain of a hockey team.

There is no good time for that to happen, but losing captain Nick Foligno now to a lower-body injury is quite a challenge for the Blue Jackets (29-25-5).

Columbus has 23 games left, sits one point out of the second wild card in the Eastern Conference and has three more games this week to break a three-game winless skid - including Metropolitan Division road games Tuesday against the New Jersey Devils (7 p.m., Fox Sports Ohio, Fox Sports Go, 97.1 FM) and Thursday against the Philadelphia Flyers.

"He's our leader, on and off [the ice], but guys will have to pick up the slack," forward Matt Calvert said Monday after practice. "We're going to have to lead by example, speak up and talk to the young guys as much as we can. He does a great job of that. And on the ice his point production, his goals … guys like myself are going to have to step up."

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#CBJ Social Roundup: February 19

PL3, Valentine's puns and a comeback kid; all that and more in this week's roundup.

by Anthony Allocco BlueJacketsNHL /

In the five days since the last roundup the team has played three games and is now getting ready for Metro Division matchups against New Jersey and Philadelphia this week. As the postseason pressure builds, Zach Werenski took the initiative to get a couple extra reps.

@stoolpresidente stacks the pads

Before the Feb. 13 contest against the Islanders, Werenski took a visit to the Barstool headquarters for a shooting challenge against Dave Portnoy, the company's founder.

Instagram from @zachwerenski: #Repost @spittinchiclets with @get_repost・・・" @stoolpresidente stuffed @zachwerenski in his back pocket on Tuesday... They don't call him the people's goalie for nothing"Not the result I wanted but fun time at @barstoolsports @spittinchiclets #rigged

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Columbus Blue Jackets place Kukan on IR, recall Dalpe, Murray

by Staff BlueJacketsNHL /

COLUMBUS, OHIO --- The Columbus Blue Jackets have placed defenseman Dean Kukan on injured reserve and have recalled forward Zac Dalpe and defenseman Ryan Murray (conditioning assignment) from the Cleveland Monsters, Columbus' American Hockey League affiliate, club General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen announced today. Kukan will miss at least one week due to an upper body injury suffered vs. Pittsburgh on Sunday.

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Full 60: Jackets fall 5-2 to Penguins

Despite 37-23 shot advantage, CBJ drop home Metro Division contest.

by Anthony Allocco BlueJacketsNHL /

Matchup: Pittsburgh Penguins (34-22-4, 72 pts.) @ Columbus Blue Jackets (29-24-5, 63 pts.)

Time: 6:00 p.m. EST.

Location: Nationwide Arena (Attendance: 19,100)

CBJ Starting lineup -- Forwards: Panarin - Dubois - Atkinson Defense: Werenski - Jones Goaltender: Bobrovsky

PIT Starting lineup -- Forwards: Aston-Reese - Crosby - Sheary Defense: Dumoulin - Letang Goaltender: Jarry

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What We Learned: PIT 5, CBJ 2

Penguins score early, force Blue Jackets to chase the game in another tough loss

by Brian Hedger JacketsInsider /

They played with more energy, but the Pittsburgh Penguins played with more poise than the Blue Jackets on Sunday at Nationwide Arena.

Columbus outshot its ninth straight opponent, by a sizeable margin (37-23), but lost again, 5-2, because of its inability to create enough goals off those opportunities. The Jackets also fell behind 2-0 seven minutes into the game and never fully recovered.

"It's a tough way to start, to be down 2-0 right away on, really, a couple of … just wrist shots," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said, referring to goals scored by forward Riley Sheahan at 1:41 and defenseman Brian Dumoulin at 6:57, both deflected into the net. "Give them credit. They did a good job, as far as they deflected a lot of pucks tonight."

Artemi Panarin cut the lead to 2-1 at 9:29 of the first, but Sheahan scored a second time to re-establish the two-goal lead, 3-1, less than two minutes later. Columbus (29-25-5) played catch-up the rest of the game, eventually dropping its third straight game in regulation.

"They create offense very smart," said Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, who allowed five goals on 23 shots. "It's very challenging to play against them. [They're] very smart offensively. They're not [going to] just shoot the puck on net and just hope that it [will] go in."

Wennberg scored the other goal for the Blue Jackets, while rookie forward Zach Aston-Reese and forward Jake Guentzel scored the final two goals for the Penguins (35-22-4), who won their fifth straight game.

"I thought we did some good things," Tortorella said. "I'm not going to get into a long talk on it, but we had some opportunities. I thought we played hard. I certainly felt we had more energy, and I think our physical play picked up, also. I can look for all the good things and all that, but we lose, 5-2."

Columbus also lost two more players to injuries, as neither captain Nick Foligno (lower-body injury) nor rookie defenseman Dean Kukan (upper body) finished the game.

Here's what we learned:

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Preview: Jackets hoping victory against Penguins provides a spark

Two-time defending champions provide great test, challenge for Columbus

by By Brian Hedger JacketsInsider /

GAME 59: PENGUINS (28-19-10) AT BLUE JACKETS (29-24-5)

Location: Nationwide Arena, 6 P.M., Sunday

TV: Fox Sports Ohio/Fox Sports Go; NBCSP, TVA Sports

Radio: 97.1 FM &

On the one hand, there couldn't be a worse time for the two-time defending Pittsburgh Penguins to come rolling into Columbus for the first time since that first-round series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season.

The Penguins, who won that series in five games on their way to hoisting the Cup for a second straight season, are looking for their fifth straight win after defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-3 on Saturday at PPG Paints Arena. They've also gotten points in six straight games, have an 8-1-1 record in their past 10 and can take over the top spot in the Metropolitan Division with a win.

The Blue Jackets are in "backs against the wall" mode, with 63 points and sitting just outside the playoffs in the Eastern Conference. 

"Results are the most important thing when you're in our situation and with the games dwindling," Columbus coach John Tortorella said Saturday, a day after the Blue Jackets lost, 2-1, in overtime to the Philadelphia Flyers. "I do think we'll be ready to play. I do trust our team in the way they assess themselves, as far as what happened [Friday] night. So, we'll get ready to play. I want to get them out of the building here as quickly as possible [Saturday], because I want their energy in that game [Sunday]."

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Practice notes: Tortorella looking forward to Blue Jackets' response

Coach thinks pressure of playoff chase will reveal true character; Nutivaara 'banged up'

by By Brian Hedger JacketsInsider /

He'd rather the Blue Jackets have a playoff spot locked up already, but there's a part of coach John Tortorella that enjoys their current situation.

That's the coach part, which is filled with curiosity about what kind of people are wearing those Blue Jackets uniforms.

Columbus has lost its past two games, is sitting just outside the playoffs in the Eastern Conference and there are 24 games left in the regular season. The Blue Jackets will also host the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday at Nationwide Arena, a huge Metropolitan Division game.

"I trust the team, but I think a lot of guys on the team haven't been in a situation where there's expectations, and now there's a fight ahead of you here as far as getting in [to the playoffs]," he said Saturday, after a snappy practice at the OhioHealth Ice Haus. "Last year, we kind of cruise and play really good hockey, but we were given up for dead before the season even started. It's a lot easier playing in that type of situation."

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Jackets, Murray confident his long road to recovery is worth the wait

Defenseman making sure he's ready to return, after talk with Davidson

by By Brian Hedger JacketsInsider /

John Davidson saw the effort Ryan Murray had put into recovering from an upper-body injury that's kept the Blue Jackets defenseman out of the lineup since late November.

He saw the ebbs and flows of Murray's off-ice journey, which has lasted 34 games and taken some twists and turns. He saw the looks of hope, pain and frustration - all displayed on Murray's face after he pushed it too hard and went through a couple of frustrating setbacks.

"A lot of times, if people come back too early it can affect the rest of their lives," Davidson said, standing outside the Blue Jackets' locker room Saturday at Nationwide Arena. "I'm a prime example of that. I've had four knee replacements, I've had two back operations and I'm a walking piece of Arthritis. And that's just something I live with every day."

Davidson, who said he takes medication twice daily to deal with his issues, saw something else in Murray's struggle. He saw himself, years ago, as an NHL goalie who played through numerous injuries that still remind him of the high price it ultimately took to keep playing.

"When you get older, you have experiences," Davidson said. "And you've got to rely on your experiences to try to help people that haven't had those experiences. I know with certain injuries, and I've had most of them, you know how people feel and how hard it is."

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What We Learned: PHI 2, CBJ 1

Philadelphia skated away with a 2-1 OT victory, despite being outshot 36-25, and the Blue Jackets had to settle for one point instead of two

by Brian Hedger JacketsInsider /

It was a point earned, but it wasn't enough for the Blue Jackets on Friday night at Nationwide Arena.

It was also not the way they wanted to play against the Philadelphia Flyers, who won 2-1 in overtime despite an outstanding performance by Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.

"We get a point because of the play of 'Bob,'" said Columbus coach John Tortorella, whose frustration showed during his postgame press conference. "I don't have an answer for 'ya, how we can play with that type of energy and that type of execution in an important game like this. No idea."

The Blue Jackets (29-24-5) outshot their eighth straight opponent. Again, it was by a significant margin (36-25). The problem was the first 30 minutes of the game, when they were too careless with the puck. Turnovers turned into multiple odd-man rushes at Bobrovsky in the first period, and he stopped them all.

Columbus rebounded to finish with more shots in the first, 11-9, but the period as a whole was a lot different than the Jackets' previous three games.

They topped 50 shots in those contests, going 2-1-0, and felt confident they could pepper Philadelphia goalie Michael Neuvirth the same way. They made him work for his 35 saves, but it wasn't enough and wasn't up to the Blue Jackets' recent standards.

"We played two teams prior to this that didn't play with much structure, [and] gave us a lot of ice to play on," Tortorella said. "This is a structure team. But we have to learn to play against teams that play with structure. We're going to have to play against teams that check tight. It's going to get tighter and tighter as each game goes by here, so I have no idea why we end up throwing something like that out there on the ice tonight."

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Full 60: CBJ fall to Flyers 2-1 in OT

Couturier nets game winner, Jackets pick up a point in OT loss.

by Anthony Allocco BlueJacketsNHL /

Matchup: Philadelphia Flyers (28-19-10, 66 pts.) @ Columbus Blue Jackets (29-24-4, 62 pts.)

Time: 7:00 p.m. EST.

Location: Nationwide Arena (Attendance: 17,364)

CBJ Starting lineup -- Forwards: Panarin-Dubois-Atkinson Defense: Werenski-Jones Goaltender: Bobrovsky

PHI Starting lineup -- Forwards: Giroux-Couturier-Konecny Defense: Provorov-Gostisbehere Goaltender: Neuvirth

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