While most of you were leaving the office and gearing up for the weekend, the Blue Jackets traveled further north from Los Angeles and arrived in sunny San Jose this afternoon.
The good news for the Blue Jackets after last night's loss is they have two full days to rest, recover and get prepared for Sunday's game against the Sharks, which (as the cliche goes) is their next biggest game of the season. After the Dallas Stars got a home-ice win over Vancouver last night, they sit just two points back of the Blue Jackets alongside the Detroit Red Wings which makes the accumulation of points even more imperative.
And coming off a brutal stretch of playing five games in seven days, perhaps rest is the ideal remedy for the Blue Jackets right now. Four of those games were on the road and they played games in four different time zones, which becomes taxing both mentally and physically as this truncated season hits its final furlong.
Coach Todd Richards and his players will have their eyes on tonight's game at HP Pavilion, where the Sharks face the Minnesota Wild in another pivotal game featuring teams looking to solidify their playoff positions. And on Saturday night, the Red Wings travel to British Columbia for a game against the Canucks that will have the full attention of those teams in the hunt.
CALVERT OUT "A WHILE," ANISIMOV RETURNING?
Late in the second period of Thursday's game at STAPLES Center, Matt Calvert stepped in Slava Voynov's shooting lane and took a blistering shot off his hand. Calvert headed down the tunnel to the Blue Jackets' dressing room and did not return, and after the game, Richards revealed that Calvert suffered a broken finger and would be out "a while," obviously very tough news for the team and a player in the midst of a breakout season.
Richards moved Blake Comeau, who had scored goals in wins over Colorado and Anaheim earlier this week, up to left wing with Brandon Dubinsky and Cam Atkinson for the third period with the Jackets down to 11 forwards.
The most likely scenario would see Colton Gillies draw back into the lineup against the Sharks with Comeau remaining on the Dubinsky line - if Artem Anisimov is not fit to return. Both Anisimov and injured defenseman Adrian Aucoin have skated this week and are considered possibilities to play on Sunday.
Nikita Nikitin, injured in the overtime win against the Ducks, is still with the team but it's unclear if he will play vs. San Jose.
MATCH PENALTY RESCINDED
In the closing moments of Thursday's game, emotions ran high and tempers boiled over as the Kings and Blue Jackets had clearly seen enough of each other. Almost every player on the ice - including Kings goalie Jonathan Quick - had found a dance partner in a wild melee just after the final buzzer.
Dubinsky and Kings defenseman Drew Doughty were involved in a dust-up, as well, which resulted in Dubinsky being assessed a match penalty at the 20:00 mark of the third period. The NHL has since rescinded the match penalty, as Aaron Portzline of the Dispatch reported this morning, meaning Dubinsky will not face further discipline and is eligible to play in San Jose.