The Blue Jackets are back on Nationwide ice tonight where they begin a three-game homestand prior to the Christmas break. The Jackets host the Dallas Stars, who make their second visit to Columbus in two weeks. The Jackets edged the Stars 3-2 in a shootout back on the 6th of the month with Kyle Wilson scoring the game-deciding goal in the shootout. The Blue Jackets limited the Stars to 18 shots in the win with Mathieu Garon earning the victory.
I would think that Garon will likely get tonight's start, but the Blue Jackets must get Steve Mason going. Mason was pulled from both his starts on the just concluded road trip, a trip I believe the Jackets very easily should have picked up at least four points, if not for the poor net minding. Their play in particular in the first period of the game in Edmonton was a dominating offensive performance as I have ever seen from a Blue Jackets team. The 23 shots was one off the franchise record for shots in a period on the road. Khabibulin was outstanding limiting the Jackets to two goals and the Jackets appeared to lose their edge after the Oilers took a two goal lead in the early moments of the second period.
More on Mason, goaltending coach Dave Rook returned to Columbus yesterday upon the team's return from Edmonton and met with Mason last night. His troubles appear to be both of a mental and technical nature and he appears to really be lacking in the confidence department. Somehow the Jackets and the coaching staff have got to find a way to get Mason's confidence up and ge this game back to where it was earlier in his career. Frankly, it is not unlike the situation the Montreal Canadiens had a year or two back with their young goalie Carey Price. Price, you'll agree, has regained his early form and is as big reason Montreal is having the season they presently are enjoying.
Game time is 7 p.m. at Nationwide tonight, seats are available as the Jackets honor another alumni member tonight - Espen Knutsen. If your not able to join us in person we will have the FOX Sports Ohio telecast for you beginning at 6:30 p.m. with Blue Jackets Live.
*Throughout the season, AAA will bring you the Broadcaster's Blog - Rimer's Game Day Ramblings. The Columbus Blue Jackets' television play-by-play man will try to keep you updated on all the season action through his blogs, especially when the Blue Jackets are on the road.