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Game Day Central: Blue Jackets at Red Wings

by Staff / Columbus Blue Jackets

WATCH: FOX Sports Ohio | LISTEN: 97.1 The Fan


First period thoughts: Tough for the Blue Jackets to come out on the short end after 20 minutes, but they really carried play for long stretches. Alfredsson's goal is the difference to this point and it was a weird play all the way around; the Jackets were caught up-ice on a shorthanded rush and couldn't recover in time. But their response was excellent; their forecheck and puck pursuit drew a couple of penalties and their power play generated some momentum. Shots were 18-7 in favor of Columbus in that period, Gustavsson was solid in goal for Detroit, but the Jackets have to find a way to light the lamp on a couple of those opportunities. Plenty of hockey to be played here tonight!

Second period thoughts: Another good road period for Columbus, but once again, the visitors find themselves trailing by a goal at intermission. It's a 2-1 lead for the Red Wings after 40 minutes at The Joe, and to be quite honest, the Blue Jackets have controlled the game for the most part. Not a lot of mistakes for Columbus - the failed clears while shorthanded usually come back to haunt you - and they've spent a good chunk of time in Detroit's end at even strength. Shots favor the Blue Jackets, 26-20, through two periods and they've had their share of chances. The bottom line remains: more of these opportunities have to be converted to pay off the hard work and get back into the game.

PREGAME: Tonight's lines and pairs for the Blue Jackets...









UPDATE (2:50 PM):
Talking to Blake Comeau this morning, you could tell how fortunate he was with his laceration. He said he got tangled up with one of the Bruins, fell to the ice and as he tried to stand up, another skate stepped on his ankle right above the boot. The resulting cut went deep and even "nicked the bone," Comeau said, and the next few minutes were understandably scary.

Comeau said he was afraid to put too much pressure on his feet as he tried to get off the ice. He needed "about 15 or 16 stitches" to get the wound sealed, he said, and is wearing reinforced Kevlar socks now. Todd Richards said Comeau is questionable for tonight's game against the Red Wings, but there's nothing questionable about how lucky he was to have a speedy recovery from what could have been a much more severe injury. 

If Comeau is unable to play tonight in Detroit, the Blue Jackets have Ryan Craig and Sean Collins up from Springfield (AHL).

UPDATE (2:30 PM):
Blue Jackets forward Matt Calvert underwent surgery this morning to repair an abdominal injury. Read more about it here.

UPDATE (2:00 PM):
Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson said no one ever needs an excuse to get up to play Detroit. Read more about the Jackets' game plan against the Red Wings tonight in this story.

UPDATE (12:25 PM):
Blue Jackets head coach Todd Richards just met with the media. Here are his pre-game thoughts/updates...

- Nick Foligno (personal reasons) will not play tonight in Detroit. He arrived this morning but is out of the lineup.

- Blake Comeau (laceration) skated with the team and is a "question mark" to play tonight, Richards said. If Comeau cannot play, the Blue Jackets have Sean Collins and Ryan Craig able to step in.

- Dalton Prout is a scratch on the blue line tonight and Nikita Nikitin jumps back into the mix. Nikitin and David Savard will make up the third pairing. 

- Marian Gaborik flies in this afternoon and is a game-time decision, per Richards.

UPDATE (11:45 AM):
No surprise here, but Sergei Bobrovsky makes his fifth consecutive start for Columbus tonight.

UPDATE (11:40 AM):
Jonas Gustavsson will make his second consecutive start for the Red Wings tonight against the Blue Jackets. It's his first home start for Detroit.

UPDATE (11:30 AM):
The Blue Jackets' morning skate is underway in Detroit. Good sign early on: Blake Comeau, who suffered a cut above his ankle on Saturday, is skating with the team and looks good. All others present and accounted for at The Joe.

UPDATE (11:00 AM):
Marian Gaborik, who missed practice yesterday with the flu, is expected to join the Blue Jackets in Detroit early this afternoon, according to Blue Jackets public relations. We'll have more information as it becomes available. 

UPDATE (10:40 AM):
Some interesting pre-game nuggets before the Blue Jackets take the ice...

- Tonight is the 75th all-time meetings between the Blue Jackets and the Red Wings.

- Columbus, as we know, was 4-0-1 against Detroit last season and has won six of the last 10 meetings overall.

- Here's a wowzer: Pavel Datsyuk has 65 points (21G, 44A) in 56 career games against the Blue Jackets.

- The Blue Jackets are 10-4-2 in their last 16 road games; they are 21-7-5 in their last 33 games overall.

- Columbus was 24-for-25 (96 percent efficiency) on the penalty kill vs. Detroit last season.

UPDATE (10:15 AM):
The Red Wings are on the ice for their morning skate at Joe Louis Arena. Jimmy Howard (hand) is getting some extra work in on his own with Detroit goaltending coach Jim Bedard. He called himself doubtful to play against Columbus yesterday.

WATCH (Pre-game):
Prout | Boll

The Blue Jackets are scheduled for an 11:30AM skate at Joe Louis Arena. We'll have complete coverage from the morning skate, including lines, pairs, goaltenders and more. Check this page early and often for the latest from Detroit.

The Blue Jackets had four regular forwards missing from their Monday practice at Nationwide Arena, but it doesn't look as if they will be shorthanded tonight in Detroit.

Matt Calvert, Nick Foligno, Marian Gaborik and Blake Comeau were absent but all but Calvert are expected to play against the Red Wings, according to coach Todd Richards. Calvert, still bothered by a nagging lower-body injury, is not going to travel with the Blue Jackets on their three-game trip and will be re-evaluated by team doctors at some point this week. 

Gaborik (flu) and Foligno (birth of his daughter) are slated to arrive in Detroit prior to the team's morning skate at Joe Louis Arena, while Comeau made the trip with the club. 

On defense, Richards alluded to another change coming on Tuesday. He said he's looking to get Nikita Nikitin back in the mix against Detroit, which means another defenseman is likely to be a healthy scratch. We won't know exactly who sits until after the morning skate. 

As you'd expect, Sergei Bobrovsky starts in goal.

Another stern test is on tap for the Blue Jackets, who play their fourth of six straight games against Eastern Conference opponents.

Coming off a 3-1 loss to the Boston Bruins on Saturday, the Blue Jackets weren't displeased with their effort and execution (save for a couple of mistakes) but want to create more offense moving forward. They didn't generate a ton of quality chances in the first 20-plus minutes against Boston, but that improved as the game progressed.

The Red Wings have been playing well and have won four of their first six games, including back-to-back wins against Philadelphia and Boston in their last two outings. Detroit overhwelmed the Flyers at times and their top six has been causing all sorts of trouble for opponents, with Daniel Alfredsson and Stephen Weiss teaming up to form a formidable second unit behind Zetterberg and Datsyuk.

Opposing teams have a lot more to worry about now and the Detroit power play has been potent, as well, forcing teams to play a near-perfect game against them to have a chance.

Despite their success against the Red Wings last season, the Blue Jackets know that things have changed and they're facing a different team this time around. Brandon Dubinsky spoke Monday about the keys to success against Detroit: playing their top players hard, keeping the puck in front of you, and making the Red Wings skate the length of the ice to create offense. 

So far this season, the Blue Jackets have had the puck a lot and have fared relatively well in the face-off circle, but as mentioned above, one thing they're targeting is creating more legitimate scoring chances. They want to get to the front of the net more and create more traffic, spend more time in the "greasy areas" as Dubinsky called them, and chip in a few dirty goals to get things going. 

UPDATE: Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard (hand) told Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press that he is doubtful to play against the Blue Jackets.



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