Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty

Let’s talk about that win over Chicago.

First of all, let’s reiterate, it was a win over Chicago. Those always feel good, even if the teams are in a virtual tie this season and it wasn’t last year’s Stanley Cup monster. Patrick Sharp scored two goals, giving him seven for the year against the Union Blue. And the Blackhawks still lost. This is so very satisfying.

Even Anton Stralman scored a goal! Wait, what? That promised “offensive defenseman” who threatened arbitration because he thought he was worth so much money and has gone on to score exactly zero goals this season and has instead been a defensive liability? Oh yes, him! He finally scored a goal! The game-winning goal, to be specific. So props to him, at least for that.

For the 2,312,857th time: how good is Matt Calvert? Oh-so-very good. Can he be cloned? The kid has hustle and determination, and he doesn’t really care if you want to take a piggyback ride on him through two zones, he’s going to go ahead and score on your goalie anyway.

And props to Kris Russell, who saved Steve Mason‘s rear end big time tonight by whisking away what could have been a game-crushing goal for Chicago.

Instead of studs and duds, let’s just go ahead and give everybody a group butt-pat and enjoy the taste of those lovely two points. Sit the playoff discussion aside for an evening, stop the scoreboard watching, let’s just enjoy the way this team is playing right now. It feels good.

In case you missed it: Rookie John Moore played in Chicago as Marc Methot was out with an injury … Derek Dorsett was IRed to make room for him, but Moore was reassigned after the game … Derek Brassard is currently on the IR with a hand injury … Ethan Moreau (remember him?) was reactivated and played last night … the Jackets set a franchise record with their sixth straight road victory and have points in their last eight road games (courtesy of the Dispatch).

Where we stand: 29-23-6 (64 points), -4 8th place Anaheim
What’s next: Tuesday vs Nashville, 7pm, huge four-pointer

Photo: Paul Vernon/AP Photo

In a game started already short their third line right winger Derek Dorsett, injury trouble was the last thing the Columbus Blue Jackets needed. On his first shift of the night, Derick Brassard was hit in the hand and would be lost at least for the immediate future. Not long after, RJ Umberger went down with an apparent knee injury. It looked grim for the Jackets, especially after a Justin Williams goal put the Kings ahead 1-0 on the scoreboard.

As they so often have this year, the Jackets regrouped and recovered. Jakub Voracek notched his eleventh goal of the season, assists going to Rick Nash and – wait for it – Derek MacKenzie. D-Mac jumped up from the fourth to the first line after two of the top six went down, and looked fantastic beside Jake and the Cap’n.

 In the second period, Loktionov put the Kings back ahead, but Nash made it look easy when he roofed a shot past Jonathan Quick, again assisted by temporary first liner MacKenzie. Tie game, end of two.

 Drew Doughty’s (boy, wouldn’t we love to have this guy) eighth goal of the season put the Kings ahead for the third time in the game, and for much of the third period it looked as if it would stay that way. Umberger returned to the game and the first line, but their shots weren’t getting through traffic, even on 1:53 of 5-on-3 power play.

 With just over a minute to go, Mathieu Garon was headed to the bench at precisely the moment Kris Russell flipped a backhander past Quick to tie the game once again. Russell, the object of many a Puck Rakers commenters’ ire for his lack of Mike Green-ness, scored his first goal since December 6th.

 On to overtime. Each time got two shots, but nothing materialized in the extra frame, and the shootout would decide this game. The Jackets were unable to get anything past Quick except for Matt Calvert himself, which to the dismay of many did not actually count. Jarret Stoll scored on Garon to seal the victory for LA.

The Jackets were far from dominant, but they were resilient tonight. In a game spent without two of their top six, at least for the majority of the time, they were able to keep the game from spiraling out of control. One point in the stands beats a goose egg, but two would’ve been twice as nice.

Tonight’s Stud: Derek MacKenzie. He saw 17:12, and was 0-2-2 with +2 and 7 hits. Very effective in his opportunity to jump up with the big boys.
Tonight’s Dud: Mathieu Garon. Specifically on the third goal, Garon was soft on the puck and sloppy. Out of character for him lately.

Where we stand: 28-23-6, 62 points, 12th place (-5, 8th place Los Angeles)
What’s next: Friday at Chicago, 8:30pm Eastern

Other notes:
The Jackets assigned D John Moore to Springfield on Tuesday. Klesla is a week or more away from playing, but the rookie needed the playing time Anton Stralman’s heightened play would not allow him.
— Derek Dorsett is hurt, but nobody’s quite sure how bad. He skated today, so it must be manageable. Though Dorsett would probably skate sans head if he could.

 

(Photo: Gregory Shamus, Getty Images)

It started off ugly, and much like many nights the Columbus Blue Jackets have seen this year: lazy defensive plays, penalty trouble, screened shots, and a 2-0 opponent lead before the first period had even settled down. RJ Umberger ignited some life into the team late in the first when some criss-crossing plays with Derek Dorsett cut the deficit in half. It would be just the beginning of what would turn out to be one of Umberger’s career nights with the Blue Jackets.

Kristian Huselius, who one night before in Detroit had become the most recent victim of Arniel’s doghouse, returned in place of Chris Clark. Combined with Umberger, the two were responsible for all four goals and creating opportunities that prior to his benching, Huselius was not finding. The game was tied at two in the second period when Umberger and Huselius connected in front of the net, drawing Khabibulin aside to allow Huselius a half-empty net to shoot at.

John Moore in his NHL Debut (Photo: Gregory Shamus, Getty Images)

The third period would be a brand new game. One that, as usual, the Oilers would jump out to an early lead in, when Paajarvi would net his second of the game. But Umberger, with two points already in his pocket, wouldn’t let the game go so easily. He took the puck from Kris Russell and worked through all kinds of traffic to get the puck past Khabibulin and tie the game yet again on his nineteenth goal of the season. Huselius would give the Jackets the lead for good just over two minutes later when Russell – the puck moving defenseman – did just that and moved it up the ice to Umberger, who handed it to Huselius to beat Khabibulin. 4-3 Jackets, and that would be the final score. For a team who looked awful in the early going, they recovered nicely on a monster night by their second-line forwards.

Tonight’s Stud: RJ Umberger, of course. Two goals, two assists, and yet another three-period 100% effort by Umberger. Honorable mention: Kristian Huselius.
Tonight’s Dud(s): Russell and Clitsome were out for all four Columbus goals, but gave up a few brilliant chances to the Oilers. Can’t happen that way. Honorable mention: the first line – combined for 13 shots, but all three were minus two with little legitimate offensive impact.

 Notes:
Despite penalty trouble early on, all seven goals were even strength.
— Umberger now has 19 goals, just 7 off his career-high of 26 with the Jackets in 2008-09. Twelve points off his career high of 50.
— Russell, probably partially responsible for the first Oilers’ goal, managed to finish the game a +2 with two assists. The fourth-year defenseman had an ugly night, but was out for all four Columbus goals.
John Moore made his NHL debut and played 12:05. He was a -1, but had a relatively quiet night on the ice. He didn’t look overly nervous or jittery at all.
— Rookie Matt Calvert played just 5:07, only taking four shifts after receiving a high stick in the first. Back on the fourth line after a one-game promotion, he and his linemates all played five minutes or under.
— Three players had a multi-point night: Umberger (4), Huselius (3), and Russell (2).
— This team is not afraid to throw their weight around: Methot & Murray each had six hits. Derek Mackenzie had 3 in just 4:17 TOI.
Rick Nash had eight shots on goal. Yes, eight.

NEXT GAME: Tuesday at Pittsburgh, 7pm.

 

John Moore (Photo: Jenni Propst)

As first announced via Twitter by 97.1 The Fan’s Scott Torgerson and later confirmed by the Blue Jackets, 2009 first round draft pick John Moore is headed westbound out of Massachusetts to join the team in Detroit this weekend. With Rusty Klesla’s aching knee, the team has six healthy defensemen, but the vulnerability of the remaining six necessitates Moore’s call up. The 20 year-old is 3-15-18, -13, in 47 games played. At the time of his call up, Moore was tied with fellow rookie David Savard for Springfield’s highest scoring defensemen. While it seemed unlikely that he would see any NHL time this season, the Falcons’ lone All Star representative doesn’t have to pass through waivers to be recalled, unlike Nick Holden. Moore, sporting the number 7  jersey, should be available for Friday’s game against Detroit. It’ll be interesting to see if he draws in in place of anyone – perhaps Anton Stralman? Stralman had an especially weak showing against Chicago on Tuesday evening.

Other off-day tidbits:
TSN’s Darren Dreger noted today: “Columbus goaltender Steve Mason (the 2009 NHL rookie of the year), young forward Jakub Voracek (selected seventh overall in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft) and 28-year-old defenceman Rostislav Klesla – the Blue Jackets’ first ever draft pick (4th overall in 2000) are believed to be drawing trade interest.” Obviously, “drawing trade interest” does not mean that Howson is willing to or considering pulling the trigger, simply that there are teams who are inquiring. It could go nowhere — it’s hard to see Mason being traded with a contract extension due to kick in next season — or it could completely shake up the roster. Will be interesting to see what happens over the next three and a half weeks.

Photo Credit: Jenni Propst

The Blue Jackets were well represented at both the AHL and NHL All Star Games by captain Rick Nash and prospect defenseman John Moore. On Friday night in Raleigh, Nash was drafted onto host-captain Eric Staal’s team, where he joined division rivals David Backes (St. Louis) and Patrick Sharp (Chicago). In Saturday’s Honda NHL SuperSkills competition, he competed in three events:
 – Accuracy Shooting: defeated Phil Kessel in 17.9 seconds.
 – Hardest Shot: registered the lowest speed, 91.4 MPH.
 – Elimination Shootout: bounced on second shot.
In Sunday’s Discover NHL All Star game, Team Staal would drop an exciting 11-10 decision with a flurry of third period goals that would result in the game winner being scored in an empty net. Despite having several great breakaway opportunities stopped, Nash completed the game with a goal and an assist and four shots on net.

Moore traveled to Hershey, PA to represent the Springfield Falcons in the 2011 AHL All Star Classic. In Sunday’s Reece’s All Star Skills Competition, he competed in two events:
  – Sher-Wood Puck Control Relay: loss
  – Reece’s Pass and Score: 1 of 3
His Eastern Conference team defeated the Western 19-7 in the skills, and would go on to defeat them again 11-8 in the game on Monday night. Moore had no points, but was +1 and played a solid defensive game.