BLUE JACKETS AT COYOTES
THURSDAY, 9 PM
FINAL: BLUE JACKETS 2 | COYOTES 0
WATCH: RJ Umberger makes it a 2-0 Jackets lead with a power play goal!
GOAL AUDIO: RJ Umberger power play goal!
This beauty and more are RIGHT HERE in our game photo gallery
WATCH: And here it is...Nathan Horton's first goal as a Blue Jacket!
SECOND PERIOD ANALYSIS: Well, that's certainly the best way to make your Blue Jackets debut. Horton tapped in a loose puck right in front of Mike Smith - a power play goal nonetheless - to give the Jackets a 1-0 lead late in the second period. The Blue Jackets out-shot the Coyotes 14-7 in the second period and lead 20-13 in that category overall, and they seemed to get better as the second period got older. The power play goal is a big boost, obviously, but they've played well in front of Curtis McElhinney as well.
FIRST PERIOD ANALYSIS: Aside from Nathan Horton officially making his Blue Jackets debut, it was a rather uneventful first period at Jobing.com Arena. Columbus and Phoenix are scoreless after 20 minutes and both teams have six shots on goal, with the Blue Jackets getting a pair of power play opportunities (the second was cut short due to a Murray penalty). Overall, a defensively sound first period for the Blue Jackets who tracked well and were clean on the exits out of their own zone. The Dubinsky-Anisimov-Horton line was physical and had a strong presence in the offensive zone, but it's only the first game as a unit.
WATCH: Jody Shelley talking Nathan Horton's debut on NHL Live.
WATCH: Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards' pre-game press conference in Phoenix.
WATCH: Ryan Murray talks to Bob McElligott about Nathan Horton's debut and what to expect tonight against Phoenix.
PRESS RELEASE: Bobrovsky, Horton, Prout activated
FEATURE STORY: Nathan Horton makes long-awaited debut
PRE GAME AUDIO: Nathan Horton | Ryan Murray | Todd Richards
UPDATE (2:05 PM): Horton is slated to make his debut on a line with Brandon Dubinsky (LW) and Artem Anisimov (C). Here are the other Jackets lines...
Foligno - Johansen - Umberger
Jenner - Letestu - Tropp
Comeau - MacKenzie - Atkinson
UPDATE (2:00 PM): It's official...the Blue Jackets have activated Nathan Horton, Sergei Bobrovsky and Dalton Prout off injured reserve. Horton is set to make his CBJ debut tonight against the Coyotes.
UPDATE (10:40 AM): A rather significant update from our Jeff Rimer in Phoenix...
- Nathan Horton is expected to make his season and Blue Jackets debut tonight against the Coyotes. So, there's that. Try and contain your excitement. We can't.
- Sergei Bobrovsky is looking likely to dress as the backup goaltender tonight. McElhinney will start.
- Dalton Prout is slated to return this evening, as well. Many happy returns, indeed.
MORNING SKATE: It's game two of a four-game road trip tonight in Glendale, Ariz., and another strong test is on tap against the Coyotes. The Blue Jackets are scheduled for an 11:30 a.m. (local time) morning skate at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, and we'll have complete coverage for you right here at Game Day Central all afternoon. Also, look for lineup changes, thoughts on the match-up against the Coyotes, storylines from the other side and an interview with coach Todd Richards. Stay tuned to this page for the latest!
The Blue Jackets could be on the verge of getting a large boost to their lineup. After practice on Wednesday in Glendale, Todd Richards it's very likely that Nathan Horton makes his Blue Jackets debut on Thursday against the Coyotes.
Read that again, and yes...it's still there. Richards is proceeding as if Horton will be available to play Thursday, and the returns from injury might not stop there. The Blue Jackets also expect Sergei Bobrovsky to be able to dress and at least backup, while Dalton Prout is also slated to return from an upper body injury.
Got all that?
If Bobrovsky isn't entirely ready to start, that means Curtis McElhinney will once again be the guy between the pipes for Columbus - but that could change depending on Bobrovsky's status after the morning skate. You know what that means: stay tuned to Game Day Central for the latest.
If Horton is ready to go and in the lineup on Thursday night, there's no use examining any other storylines. But since it's not 100 percent at this point, let's take a look at some others.
Man...we really sold you on reading further, didn't we?
But much like was discussed prior to Tuesday's game, the Blue Jackets and Coyotes don't need introduced. These two teams saw plenty of each other when Columbus was a member of the Western conference and made a pair of annual trips to Glendale, and quite frankly, it didn't always go well.
Their last two trips to the desert (both in 2012-13) have resulted in a pair of losses by a combined 10-3 margin, but the only meeting last season at Nationwide Arena
was a 1-0 shootout win for the Blue Jackets - a game that could have gone either way on multiple occasions.
The next installment of Blue Jackets-Coyotes has high stakes for both teams (that's been stated here before) and especially for Columbus, which needs to keep pace in the Metropolitan Division standings; the Blue Jackets have followed a three-game win streak with back-to-back losses to Pittsburgh and Colorado - both by identical 5-3 final scores - and their penalty killing has let them down in a big way.
Columbus has yielded six power play goals against in its last two losses, and on New Year's Eve, the Avalanche were 3-for-3 on the power play while the Blue Jackets did not score on their three man advantage opportunities.
AT ST. LOUIS BLUES
SATURDAY, 8 P.M.