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CBJ Today: Getting on the board

The Blue Jackets hope to back up a memorable holiday win

by Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider /

Each weekday this season, will post CBJ Today, a look at news, notes, analysis and fun stuff from around the Blue Jackets world. It's everything you need to know if you're a fan going into the day.  

The Daily Buzz 

It's another CBJ gameday! They're coming fast and furious now -- it's the second gameday in a row, third in six days, and is the fourth of five games in eight days. After earning their first win of the season yesterday with a 3-2 victory at Detroit, the Blue Jackets will be looking to make it two by sweeping the Red Wings in the pizza palace.  

Well, that was fun 

I'm not sure how many people got to watch yesterday's Blue Jackets game live -- credit to the NHL for trying something different and staging four national television games on a national holiday, but I'm sure many people still found themselves a bit busy on a weekday afternoon -- but that was one of those "What did I just watch?" kind of hockey games by the end. 

The craziness largely took place in the final minute. It all seemed innocuous enough, as the Jackets led 3-1 with a minute to go when the Red Wings won an offensive zone faceoff. Then, hockey happened. 

Anthony Mantha's point shot was saved by Joonas Korpisalo, and as any player would do, Detroit's Bobby Ryan took a whack at Korpisalo to try to knock it free. In response, as any player would do, Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski shoved Ryan, who clattered into Korpisalo. The puck then slid free and into the net, but that wasn't the end of it, as Werenski quickly dropped the gloves with Detroit's Dylan Larkin while Oliver Bjorkstrand partnered up with Ryan. 

The tussling was all over in about 10 seconds, but they were 10 memorable seconds. That's particularly true for Werenski and Larkin, who grew up together in suburban Detroit, attended the University of Michigan together and remain great friends.  

In fact, as I wrote yesterday, Larkin left tickets for Werenski's family to be able to see the game. 

"It's pretty funny how it worked out," said Werenski, who added his phone was blowing up with texts from family and mutual friends with Larkin. 

As for Bjorkstrand, he also had a goal and an assist in the game. The fighting major was the first of his career, so it couldn't have come at a better time, as Bjorkstrand finished with the famous Gordie Howe hat trick. 

"It just happened," he said postgame with a smile on his face. "It's fun to get one of those. I'll remember that." 

Stay tuned for round two on Tuesday night. 

Getting Some Skill 

Columbus got just one goal in its first game of the season in a loss at Nashville. The Blue Jackets scored two in game two while falling again to the Predators. And finally, Monday, they got to three, tallying thrice in the 3-2 victory. 

But perhaps more importantly, the goals came from guys who need to score them. Bjorkstrand and Pierre-Luc Dubois, who started the season on the CBJ top line, both got their first goals of the season, while young, talented Alexandre Texier made it two goals in two games.  

Here's what to like most about each goal: 

  • Bjorkstrand making it 1-1: The Blue Jackets spent what felt like forever in the Detroit zone before the goal, and credit to Columbus for not just pressuring the Wings but finishing it off with a goal. Bjorkstrand's goal was a top-level snipe, an absolute laser that left goalie Thomas Greiss with no chance. Dirty. 
  • Texier making it 2-1: Bjorkstrand started the play by holding the puck with patience at the top of the zone. He then gave it to Texier with speed, and boy did he have speed, blowing past the Detroit team and then winning the race to the far post for the wraparound score. John Tortorella continues to rave about Texier, and he's starting to make high-level NHL plays now at age 21. 
  • Dubois making it 3-1: Beyond the fact the second assist went to goalie Joonas Korpisalo (goalie point!), it was a great way for free-agent signee Mikhail Grigorenko to get his first CBJ point. Grigorenko grabbed the puck in front of Korpisalo, skated his way out of trouble calmly, then looked up and spotted Dubois behind the defense, and PLD did the rest from there. Great teamwork.  
MLK Day honors O'Ree, too 

Monday was a day to recognize history in the NHL, as not only was it Martin Luther King Jr. Day, it was the 63rd anniversary of the day Willie O'Ree broke the color barrier as the first African-American player in the NHL when he suited up for the Boston Bruins. 

As such, the league celebrated both yesterday, with all teams wearing a sticker on their helmets featuring a stylized drawing of O'Ree in his famed fedora framed by the words "CELEBRATING EQUALITY." Teams will continue to wear the decals through the end of February, which is not only Black History Month but the NHL's celebration of Hockey is for Everyone. 

For those who don't know, O'Ree is no stranger to Columbus, having visited a number of times and even dropping the puck before an October 2017 game in Nationwide Arena. He also has strong ties to the Columbus Ice Hockey Club, which introduces the sport to thousands each year from all backgrounds across the capital city. 

Video: NHL trailblazer talks to youth hockey club

Best wishes for continued good health, Willie, and we hope to see you again soon.  

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