COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS (28-40-3, 59 pts./3rd Central Division)
THIS WEEK'S SCHEDULE
DATE OPPONENT - ARENA TIME TV/RADIO
Tue., Mar. 28 vs. San Jose Sharks, Nationwide Arena 7 p.m.
FSN Ohio/WBNS-AM, WWCD-FM
Fri., Mar. 31 at St. Louis Blues, Savvis Center 8 p.m.
FSN Ohio/WBNS-AM, WWCD-FM
Sat., Apr. 1 vs. Chicago Blackhawks, Nationwide Arena 7 p.m.
FSN Ohio/WBNS-AM, WWCD-FM
Times are Eastern; WBNS-AM (1460 the Fan); WWCD-FM (CD101)
THIS WEEK'S PRACTICE SCHEDULE: Blue Jackets practices typically last 60 minutes with media availability following. The schedule for Mar. 28-Apr. 3 (Tue.-Mon.) is as follows: Tue. – 10:30 a.m. (Nationwide Arena)… Wed. – 11 a.m. (Dispatch Ice Haus)… Thu. – 10:30 a.m. (Dispatch Ice Haus)… Fri. – 11:30 a.m. (Savvis Center, St. Louis)… Sat. – 10:30 a.m. (Nationwide Arena)… Sun. – 12 p.m. (Dispatch Ice Haus)… Mon. – 11:30 a.m. (Gaylord Entertainment Center, Nashville)… Practice times are local and subject to change. Practices at the Dispatch Ice Haus are open to the public.
ROSTER & INJURY REPORT: Transactions: Mar. 24 – Assigned C Dan Fritsche to the Syracuse Crunch (AHL)… Injuries: C Mike Rupp (irregular heartbeat) is out for the season… D Bryan Berard (lower back injury, Jan. 27 vs. Minnesota) is out for the season.
THIS WEEK'S OPPONENTS: San Jose Sharks – 36-24-10, 82 pts. (3rd, Pacific Division)… Final of four meetings this season… Columbus is 5-12-2 in the all-time series, including 4-4-1 at home… Columbus is 1-2-0 this season as the home team has won all three games, including a 4-1 Blue Jackets win at Nationwide Arena on Oct. 21… Head Coach: Ron Wilson… Players to Watch – C Joe Thornton (25-81-106, 5 GWG, +25 in 69 games)… RW Jonathan Cheechoo (45-30-75, 19 PPG, 8 GWG in 70 games)… G Vesa Toskala (16-6-3, 2.69 GAA, .898 SV%, 1 SO in 28 games)… St. Louis Blues – 20-37-12, 52 pts. (5th, Central Division)… Seventh of eight meetings this season… Jackets are 8-13-5 in the all-time series, including 2-9-3 on the road… Columbus is 3-2-1 this season and with a win can clinch the season series against the Blues for the first time… Head Coach: Mike Kitchen… Players to Watch – RW Scott Young (17-29-46, 10 PPG in 66 games)… LW Keith Tkachuk (13-18-31, 9 PPG in 29 games)… G Patrick Lalime (4-15-7, 3.68 GAA, .879 SV% in 27 games)… Chicago Blackhawks – 21-38-11, 53 pts. (4th, Central Division)… Sixth of eight meetings this season… Columbus is 11-13-2 in the all-time series, including 7-5-1 at home… The Blue Jackets are 3-2-0 this season, but have lost the last two games… Players to Watch – LW Kyle Calder (19-31-50 in 67 games)… LW Mark Bell (22-20-42, 9 PPG in 70 games)… G Nikolai Khabibulin (13-22-5, 3.37 GAA, .882 SV% in 41 games).
WEEK IN REVIEW: Mar. 21 – Phoenix 5, at Blue Jackets 2: Columbus jumped out to a 2-0 lead on first period goals by Adam Foote and Sergei Fedorov, but the Coyotes scored five unanswered goals and got 31 saves from Curtis Joseph to extend the Blue Jackets' winless streak to five games (0-4-1). Mike Johnson's goal with just :07 remaining in the first period cut the Columbus lead to 2-1 and Steven Reinprecht (6:12) and Shane Doan (9:51) added markers in the second period to put Phoenix ahead 3-2 after two periods. The Coyotes added two more goals, including an empty netter, in the third… Mar. 24 – at Blue Jackets 3, Calgary 2: Adam Foote registered a career-high three assists and Jason Chimera's goal with 2:47 left in the third period was the game-winner as Columbus won its 18th home game of the season. The Flames took a 1-0 lead just 1:41 into the game on a goal by Chuck Kobasew. The Jackets tied the game at 1-1 in the second period on a goal by Manny Malhotra before Daymond Langkow put the Flames up 2-1 at the 6:26 mark. Nikolai Zherdev netted the equalizer just 1:21 later. Marc Denis made 26 saves to out-duel Miikka Kiprusoff, who made 25 saves for the Flames. Both teams fired 28 shots on goal, while Columbus went 0-of-7 on the power play and Calgary was 1-of-8… Mar. 25 – Blue Jackets 5, at Detroit 4 (SO): The Blue Jackets scored four goals in the third period and scored the lone goal in the shootout to cap the biggest third period comeback in team history and earn a 5-4 win over the NHL-leading Red Wings. After falling behind 3-0 and being out-shot 27 to 10 after two periods, Columbus scored four goals in a span of 7:37 in the third to shock the crowd at Joe Louis Arena. Rostislav Klesla scored the Jackets' first goal at the 7:08 mark and David Vyborny tallied at 10:39 to cut the deficit to 3-2. Rick Nash picked up his 22nd goal of the season at 14:16 to tie the game at 3-3 and Manny Malhotra put Columbus up 4-3 when he lit the lamp just :19 later. Detroit regrouped to force overtime when Pavol Datsyuk scored his 27th of the campaign with just 1:50 left in regulation. Neither team scored in overtime and Jaroslav Balastik scored the only goal in the shootout, his third shootout winner of the season, to cap the Jackets' comeback. Pascal Leclaire made 40 saves to earn the win in net, while Chris Osgood turned aside 23-of-27 in taking the loss.
ROOKIE LECLAIRE MAKING HIS MARK BETWEEN THE PIPES: G Pascal Leclaire made 40 saves at Detroit on Mar. 25 to record his sixth 40-save game of the season, which is the most by a rookie goaltender in the NHL since Mike Richter of the New York Rangers accomplished the same during the 1990-91 season. In picking up the shootout win vs. the Red Wings, Leclaire improved to 5-1-2 in games that have gone into overtime and/or a shootout this season. He has gone 6-5-2 in his last 14 starts with a 2.70 GAA and .929 SV% to improve to 9-13-3 with a 3.42 GAA and .907 SV% in 28 games this season.
PLAYER NOTES: RW Nikolai Zherdev scored his team-leading 26th goal vs. Calgary on Mar. 24 and is four shy of becoming the third player in team history to score 30 or more in a season (Geoff Sanderson – 2000-01, 2002-03 and Rick Nash – 2003-04)… LW Rick Nash has tallied 5-6-11 in his last nine games to raise his point totals to 22-19-41 in 39 games since his return from injury on Dec. 17… RW David Vyborny has tallied 17-34-51 in 69 games this season and is two points shy of matching his career high of 22-31-53 in 82 games in 2003-04… D Adam Foote matched his career high with three assists vs. Calgary on Mar. 24 with the first marking his 250th career NHL point… LW Jason Chimera has tallied 3-4-7 in his last 10 games, including the game-winning goal vs. Calgary on Mar. 24 which was his career high 15th of the season… D Rostislav Klelsa picked up his fourth multi-point game of the season with 1-1-2 at Detroit on Mar. 25… D Ron Hainsey registered the third multi-point game of his career with 0-2-2 at Detroit on Mar. 25.
JACKETS SET ONE MARK FOR WINS, CLOSING IN ON TWO OTHERS: Despite already setting a franchise record for games missed due to injury at 252 with 11 games to play (previous high was 213 in 2003-04), the Blue Jackets are closing in on new franchise marks for wins and home wins. In last Saturday's 5-4 win at Detroit, the club won its 10th road game of the season for the first time in team history. With 28 wins on the season, the Jackets are two shy of hitting the 30-win mark for the first time (29 in 2002-03) and need just three home wins to surpass the club record of 20 set in 2002-03. Since Nov. 26, the Blue Jackets have gone 23-22-3,including a 12-6-0 mark in their last 18 home games.
TEAM NOTES: Tuesday's game vs. San Jose will be the Blue Jackets' 200th at Nationwide Arena since joining the NHL in 2000. The club is 88-82-29 in the previous 199 contests… The Blue Jackets' 20 points (on eight wins and two shootout losses) in games in which they trailed after two periods ranks second in the NHL to the Edmonton Oilers' 21… Columbus has completed 16 of 19 sets of back-to-back games scheduled for this season with a 9-5-2 record in first games and 7-9-0 in second games.
UPCOMING PROMOTIONS: Mar. 28 vs. San Jose – The first 10,000 fans who arrive at Nationwide Arena on Tuesday to see the Jackets take on the San Jose Sharks will receive a free copy of the 2005-06 Columbus Blue Jackets Yearbook. Dispatch/Mix 97.1 Family Night packages – including four tickets, four Sugardale hot dogs, four Pepsis, four popcorns, four UDF ice cream cone coupons and four skating passes to the The Chillers/Dispatch Ice Haus – are also available for the game starting at just $80… Apr. 1 vs. Chicago – Blue Jackets players will be meeting fans and signing autographs throughout Nationwide Arena for one hour following Saturday's game vs. the Chicago Blackhawks.
JACKETS ON THE RADIO: The Doug MacLean Show airs on WBNS Sports Radio 1460 The Fan on Wednesdays from 3-4 p.m. with the Blue Jackets President and General Manager and WBNS Radio's Bruce Hooley. Between the Pipes with the Blue Jackets can also be heard on the Blue Jackets Radio Network and flagship station Sports Radio 1460 the Fan on Sundays from 10-11 a.m. with hosts Mark Wyant and members of the Blue Jackets broadcast team.
TICKET INFORMATION: Individual game and group tickets for Blue Jackets games at Nationwide Arena are on sale now at the Nationwide Arena Ticket Office, the Chiller Easton, the Chiller Dublin and Chiller North, all Ticketmaster Ticket Centers, by phone at (614) 431-3600 or via the internet at www.BlueJackets.com and ticketmaster.com. For information on season tickets or group tickets, call (614) 246-PUCK or (800) NHL-COLS.