After all the tension leading up to the trade deadline, the Blue Jackets find themselves saying goodbye to an old friend, but welcoming in new faces and new energy to the locker room. Handshakes were given, hugs exchanged, stoic expressions broke down into a cocktail of tears, smiles, joy, and regret. Bags were packed, flights were scheduled, and much craziness will follow in the wake of a few faxes and a press conference.
Oh, and I guess they have to keep playing hockey games, too.
|Game Time: 10:00 pm EST
|TV: Fox Sports Ohio (HD)
|Radio: 102.5 WWCD-FM
|Blue Jackets vs Canucks coverage|
Opponent's Blog: Nucks Misconduct
Both the Blue Jackets and the Canucks made moves yesterday, but the Jackets were a bit more substantial - Vancouver's adds of Chris Higgins and Maxime Lapierre were more about depth than anything else (Higgins, in fact, can't even play yet, as he's healing a broken hand), but for the most part the new guys will get their chance to play this evening, and will be looking to make an impact with the new club. It's a way to prove they're in the right place, and that the team made a good decision to bring them up - particularly for Upshall, since he knows that a strong performance in the next 21 games could lead to a new contract in Columbus rather than having to test free agency one year away from a new CBA.
The Jackets have played one very good game in Vancouver, where only a Vermette shot going wide past an open net kept them from winning in OT, and one wretched stinker on home ice in the midst of a December slump.
Riding the best February in franchise history, they need to keep up the hard charging play that got them back into the playoff race, and take it to the conference leading (but slightly slumping) Canucks tonight in their own barn.
Keys To The Game:
- New Fish - With Scottie Upshall slotting into the third line for now, and Sami Lepisto taking the place of Anton Stralman, the Jackets have added a good bit of grit and mobility. What we need to see from them tonight is a bit of energy to keep the team jumping. The Jackets will also have Grant Clitsome and Matt Calvert in the lineup against the Canucks for the first time - don't be surprised if they make an impact as well.
- PK - The Jackets' penalty kill, despite still being ranked in the bottom third of the league overall, has been strong of late, and they'll be facing the 2nd best PP unit in the league.
- "Old Friends" - Ryan Kesler and R.J. Umberger, former teammates at OSU, have what I can only politely describe as a mad on for each other. Neither seems to like the other, and they've thrown down several times in their NHL careers. Both are on pace to set career scoring highs this season. I wouldn't be surprised at all to see both of them have a big impact on this game, regardless of how it goes.
The Jackets rewarded the paitence of their fans in February, and now they have the chance to really get attention, both in Columbus and on the national level, with how they play from here on out. Two points tonight makes up the ground lost in Nashville, and big win could set the tone for the rest of the month. Make it happen, guys.
Blue Jackets Information:
|Rick Nash||Derek MacKenzie||Jakub Voracek|
|R.J. Umberger||Antoine Vermette||Matt Calvert|
|Scottie Upshall||Samuel Pahlsson||Derek Dorsett|
|Ethan Moreau||Andrew Murray||Jared Boll|
|Jan Hejda||Sami Lepisto|
|Fedor Tyutin||Marc Methot|
|Grant Clitsome||Kris Russell|
|Daniel Sedin||Henrik Sedin||Alexandre Burrows|
|Mason Raymond||Ryan Kesler||Mikael Samuelsson|
|Raffi Torres||Manny Malhotra||Jannik Hansen|
|Tanner Glass||Maxime Lapierre|
|Keith Ballard||Christian Ehrhoff|
|Aaron Rome||Chris Tanev|
Tidbit: Going back to the pre-NHL "Vancouver Millionaires", the history of hockey in Vancouver is rich, deep, and filled with atrocious jersey designs.