SUNRISE FL - JANUARY 19: Head coach Scott Arniel of the Columbus Blue Jackets calls a play out during the overtime period against the Florida Panthers on January 19 2011 at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise Florida. The Blue Jackets defeated the Panthers 3-2 in overtime. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
With Rick Nash winging his way back to Columbus from the All Star Weekend festivities, and Matt Calvert hopping a quick flight back from Springfield after a short but productive stint over the weekend where he added two more assists in three games, the Jackets will return to the ice at exactly 2:01pm today - one minute after the official All Star Game break ends.
You've probably already read Justin Bourne's look at what the All Star Break means for most players, but it's a good article and also provides some insight into what this afternoon likely holds for the team.
Don't be surprised if you hear about plenty of hard, end to end skates, fast drills, and getting the team back on their legs as quickly as possible. In fact, it goes double for the Jackets, since they'll be taking on the Blackhawks tomorrow.
If I was Scott Arniel, and I had one guy from my team who went to the all star game, and then looked at the opponent, who had four, including three of their top offensive performers, part of my game plan for tomorrow is to try and jump on the Hawks, hard, and hope that the somewhat larger amount of rested bodies (particularly from guys who need to step up offensively, like Kristian Huselius and Jakub Voracek) will make a positive impact. You also lean on guys like Calvert and Grant Clitsome, who have stepped up big recently, and hope they keep making a big impact.
Pretty much everyone who follows the Jackets has said these next 12 games are the make or break, and the players and coaches can read a schedule just as well as we can. Today is going to be the chance to set the tone for this month, and the rest of the season.