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Game Day Central: Blue Jackets at Maple Leafs

by Staff / Columbus Blue Jackets


WATCH: Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards addresses the media after last night's 6-0 victory in Toronto.

WATCH: Jack Skille scored his first goal as a Blue Jacket in last night's win. He talked with Bob McElligott about the total team effort that made it happen.

WATCH: Nick Foligno talks about last night's 6-0 win over the Maple Leafs on Jackets TV.

WATCH:: How about another Ryan Johansen highlight? His second of the game made it 6-0.

WATCH: Nick Foligno to Ryan Johansen...boom. 5-0 Jackets!

SECOND PERIOD ANALYSIS: What has been a daunting period throughout this season was a good one for the Blue Jackets tonight. They added two more goals in the middle frame - an absolute snipe from Jack Skille and a beauty power play goal from Ryan Murray - to stake the Blue Jackets to a 4-0 advantage through 40 minutes at the Air Canada Centre. What made the Jackets successful in the first period was much of the same in the second: they defended well, kept pucks out of danger and limited the Leafs' speed in transition and through the neutral zone. The Blue Jackets have been efficient with their shots, too; they have four goals on 15 shots through two periods but have tested James Reimer with some high-quality opportunities. One of the keys to the final 20 minutes is to keep managing the puck well, limit your turnovers and stick to the game plan.

Ryan Murray snaps in a power play goal - the second goal of his career - to give the Jackets a 4-0 lead.

WATCH: Jack Skille snipes a beauty shot under the bar to give Columbus a 3-0 lead, his first goal as a Blue Jacket!

FIRST PERIOD ANALYSIS: The Blue Jackets wanted to clean up their game in the defensive zone and in the neutral zone, and they're off to a strong start through 20 minutes at the Air Canada Centre. They've also scored twice on seven shots - once from Atkinson and another from Umberger in a span of 20 seconds - and hold a 2-0 advantage over the Leafs. In the first period, the highlight for Columbus was the coverage; the Blue Jackets didn't give Toronto much room to work with and didn't turn the puck over, which doesn't feed into the Leafs' uptempo game. Simple hockey was the flavor of that period and it's going to have to continue in the next 40 minutes.

Just 20 seconds later, RJ Umberger chipped home his sixth of the season to make it 2-0 Columbus.

WATCH: Cam Atkinson scores his sixth goal of the campaign to put the Blue Jackets up 1-0 in the first period.

CAMSANITY! Atkinson's sixth goal of the season gave the Jackets a 1-0 lead. Listen to the goal here --> ATKINSON GOAL

UPDATE (3:00 PM): The Blue Jackets have just announced that Sean Collins' emergency recall from Springfield has been voided. Collins experienced flight delays this morning and would not have made it to Toronto in time for the game, thus requiring the recall to be canceled. 

As a result, it sounds as if the Blue Jackets will skate with 11 forwards and seven defensemen tonight against the Maple Leafs. It would mark the first time they've used that arrangement this season.

Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards holds his pre-game meeting with the media at the Air Canada Centre.

WATCH: Ryan Murray speaks with the media before tonight's game in Toronto.

WATCH: Matt Calvert's pre-game interview on Jackets TV.

UPDATE (1:55 PM): Bob McElligott and Jody Shelley are back with another edition of their "Inside Edge" podcast on Today, they set the stage for tonight's game against the Leafs and look at some of the problems ailing the Blue Jackets. Listen here --> INSIDE EDGE

UPDATE (1:30 PM):
With MacKenzie and Boll appearing doubtful at best for tonight's game, the Blue Jackets have recalled Sean Collins on an emergency basis from Springfield. Here's the press release --> COLLINS

UPDATE (1:15 PM):
Rookie defenseman Ryan Murray discusses Game No. 24 for the Blue Jackets after today's morning skate. Listen to his interview ---> MURRAY

UPDATE (1:10 PM):
Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards met with the media prior to tonight's game. Listen to his morning skate media session here --> RICHARDS

UPDATE (12:55 PM):
Ryan Johansen discusses tonight's game in Toronto with Bob McElligott. Listen to his pre-game comments --> JOHANSEN

UPDATE (12:45 PM):
Blue Jackets forward Matt Calvert talks about tonight's game against the Leafs. Listen to his interview --> CALVERT

UPDATE (12:05 PM):
Jared Boll tried to skate this morning, but it doesn't appear that he is going to play tonight. He left the morning skate early at Air Canada Centre and is considered doubtful. Derek MacKenzie's status should be clarified once we meet with coach Todd Richards after practice.

UPDATE (11:50 AM):
More from Jeff Rimer...he reports that MacKenzie did in fact take a regular line rush during today's skate, so it appears that he's going to give it a go tonight against the Leafs. Tough guy, that No. 24. 

UPDATE (11:45 AM):
All eight Blue Jackets defensemen are on the ice for today's morning skate. That includes Dalton Prout, who returned to practice on Sunday but has yet to be activated off the injured reserve. Derek MacKenzie, considered doubtful for tonight's game, is also partaking in the morning skate.

UPDATE (10:30 AM):
James Reimer will start in goal for Toronto tonight, his first against the Blue Jackets this season. Jonathan Bernier started the previous meeting at Nationwide Arena on Oct. 25.

UPDATE (10:20 AM):
Jeff Rimer reports from Toronto that Derek MacKenzie is doubtful for tonight's game against the Maple Leafs. He's been battling a lower-body injury the past few games.

The Blue Jackets are scheduled for an 11:30 a.m. morning skate at the Air Canada Centre on Monday as they prepare to close out their Canadian road trip. This is the second meeting of the season between the Jackets and Maple Leafs, with Columbus taking the opener of the series back on Oct. 25 at Nationwide Arena.

We'll have lineup updates, starting goaltenders, pre-game video interviews and audio from the morning skate to get you ready for the game. Stay tuned to Game Day Central and for the latest from Toronto!

The Blue Jackets held a 90-minute practice at MasterCard Centre in Etobicoke yesterday (practice rink of the AHL’s Toronto Marlies) and got some good news on the injury front. James Wisniewski (illness) and Dalton Prout (on IR) returned to practice with the team, and one more, Nathan Horton took part in his first full-team practice with the Blue Jackets. Horton was wearing a red no-contact sweater during the skate and there’s no timetable for his return, but nonetheless, it was a positive sign to see No. 8 taking part in practice with his teammates.

Because Prout is still on injured reserve, the Blue Jackets would have to activate him and make a scratch of another defenseman on the roster. With Wisniewski out of Friday’s game in Vancouver, Tim Erixon slotted into his place and played well despite Columbus’ 6-2 loss.

Look for Sergei Bobrovsky to get back between the pipes on Monday night against the Maple Leafs. He was a 5-2 winner over Toronto at Nationwide Arena back on Oct. 25, and like his teammates, Bobrovsky will be seeking a rebound performance after Friday’s defeat in Vancouver.

The last time the Blue Jackets played the Maple Leafs, it was on home ice and Columbus could dictate the tempo and the match ups. This time around, they’ll have to play a slightly different game - but they can ill afford to play a run-and-gun game as the Leafs prefer to do.

With the last line change, look for Leafs coach Randy Carlyle (one of the most dedicated line-matchers in the NHL) to get his top players in mis-match situations with the Blue Jackets as often as possible. His commitment to doing so - which has produced success for his top players throughout his coaching career (see: Anaheim) - allows the Leafs to get out in transition and use their speed to back off the opposition’s defense.

How do the Blue Jackets counter that? It goes back to the old adage of “managing the puck,” a phrase the Jackets and their head coach have said often in recent weeks. The key, as it often is, will be to get the puck in deep behind the Toronto defense and play the game below the hashmarks; logic says that if the Blue Jackets have the puck, it will be difficult for the Leafs to create scoring chances. Don’t beat yourself, take care of the puck, and don’t take undisciplined penalties.

Easier said than done, of course, but at the very least, the Blue Jackets have something to work with from their previous victory over the Maple Leafs.

In this final game of a five-game Canadian road trip that began with a 4-1 win in Ottawa last weekend and a 2-1 overtime in Calgary on Wednesday - but muddled by bad losses in Edmonton and Vancouver - the Blue Jackets have a chance to post a 3-2-0 record on a difficult trip before heading home for a stretch that includes a bulk of games at Nationwide Arena.

During that time, they could possibly get some help at forward with injured players (Brandon Dubinsky) possibly returning, with Nathan Horton sometime in the coming month or so.

Horton took part in his first full-team skate with the Blue Jackets on Sunday in Toronto, but there has been no update or timetable provided for a return to game action.



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