The Chicago Blackhawks are in town and to quote head coach Todd Richards, today is the “next biggest game” for the Blue Jackets. Here are some of the main stories from this morning’s practice:
There’s no question that Artem Anisimov’s return to the line-up tonight is great timing. The forward has eight points in 19 games this season and has scored two goals in three games against the Blackhawks this season. He returns to the line-up amidst an eight-game point streak for the Blue Jackets.
Adrian Aucoin isn’t an offensive defenseman like some of the other blue-liners on the Blue Jackets. He doesn’t put up the most minutes each night, either. What he does is much more important in some ways.
Aucoin is a leader. He has played in over 1,000 games in the NHL and even served as captain of the Chicago Blackhawks from 2005-2007. He is a mentor for many of the Blue Jackets’ young defensemen and has been a valuable asset to this team.
“It’s veteran leadership, guidance,” Richards said when asked about what Aucoin’s greatest contribution to the team. “He talks to the young guys; it’s the way that he plays the game too.”
Still, Aucoin said it’s the young guys who are teaching him.
“I always see these young guys helping me as much as I help them,” he said. “It’s funny, you come in and you think you’re almost going to coach these kids, but kids are so well-prepared now.”
Although the subject may be “old news” by now, the NHL’s Board of Governors voted to officially pass a realignment plan for next season. Under the new plan, the Blue Jackets and Red Wings will move to the Eastern Conference, creating two divisions with eight teams each in the East and two divisions with seven teams each in the West.
The plan places the Blue Jackets in a division with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina Hurricanes, New York Rangers, NY Islanders, New Jersey Devils, Washington Capitals, and Philadelphia Flyers.
The news certainly bodes well for the Blue Jackets in terms of travel and accessibility for the fans.
“It’s difficult when you go out West so often… the game comes on at either 10 or 10:30,” Richards said. “It’s tough for our fans on a weekday night if they have to get up and go to work the next day.”
Click here for more information about the realignment plan.
Enjoying the Ride:
Every hockey player dreams of playing in the NHL. Dalton Prout was no different, and now that he’s here, he doesn’t want to leave.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “I’m just trying to stay here as long as a I possibly can.”
For Prout, playing for Columbus has benefits beyond the “NHL” label. A native of Kingsville, Ontario, he said his family (mom, dad, and younger sister) didn’t get to see him play much when he played for the Falcons, the Blue Jackets’ AHL-affiliate in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Columbus, however, is a short four-hour car ride from Kingsville, and his family has made the trip many times to see Prout play in a Blue Jackets uniform.
“They’ve been to over half the games,” Prout said. “They were at the game in Detroit [last Sunday], and they’ll be at the game tonight.”