Coming off the best season in franchise history, the Columbus Blue Jackets are off to the best start in franchise history. The team is 2-0 for the first time sice their inception into the league nine years ago.
The Blue Jackets have been getting good play from the entire team and have propelled themselves to victories over Minnesota on Saturday, and at Vancouver on Monday. Here is the midweek report.
Last two games: 2-0
The Jackets opened the ’09 season with a 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild, in front of a sold-out Nationwide Arena on Saturday night.
The teams played a relatively uneventful first period after a rambunctious pre-game opening ceremony, ending play in a scoreless tie.
The Jackets were on the board for the first time of the year in the second period when forward R.J. Umberger scored on a shorthanded breakaway goal. Moments later Captain Rick Nash was presented with the same opportunity, but was not able to capitalize on the breakaway.
Minnesota tied the score with a third period goal from Andrew Brunette at 4:43. Minutes later, the only remaining original Blue Jacket celebrated his new four-year deal with the club by putting the finishing touches on the teams first victory of the year.
Rostislav Klesla scored at 10:10 of the third and the reigning Calder Memorial Trophy winner Steve Mason held on for the win. Mason finished with 32 saves in all.
Monday night’s affair with the Vancouver Canucks offered a new test for Columbus. It was the first road game of the year, and the first of a three game western road trip for the Jackets.
Vancouver struck first, at 15:29 in the first, but Columbus responded, killing off a five-on-three man advantage and scoring just moments after the penalty expired to end the first in a 1-1 tie.
The Jackets would add three consecutive goals in the second, scored by Huselius, Klesla, and Filatov before Vancouver added one more to close the cap to 4-2.
The Canucks made it close with a third period goal from Willie Mitchell, but Columbus added some insurance courtesy of a power play goal from Fedor Tyutin with 4:57 to play.
With the win, Columbus climbed to 2-0, while Vancouver fell to 0-3 for the first time since 2001 despite averaging 40 shots a game.
The young guys:
The younger guys performed well in the first two games. Nikita Filatov tallied his first goal of the season against Vancouver. Brassard seems to be fully recovered from his surgery and the shoulder injury he suffered last December, and appears to be poised to center the top line with great strength.
Jakub Voracek is bigger and stronger, and posted assists in both games. Even young Mathieu Roy has gotten in on the action, and has filled in nicely while Mike Commodore had missed time due to injury.
Power play watch:
Columbus was 0-2 on the PP on Saturday night and 1-4 with the man advantage on Monday. That puts the season total at 1-6, or for those of you who can’t do it in your head, about 17%.
The penalty kill was 3-4 on Saturday and 4-4 on Monday, bringing the season total to 7-8 or 87.5%.
The Jackets currently sit in a two-way tie atop the Central Division. St. Louis is also 2-0 while Chicago lurks close behind with three points at 1-0-1. Nashville is in fourth with a 1-0 record and Detroit is bringing up the rear at 0-2.
St. Louis leads the division in goals for with 9, while Detroit leads in goals against with 9.
After taking a cheap hit Monday night from Vancouver’s Darcy Hordichuk, Jared Boll was taken off the ice and is listed as questionable for Thursday night’s game. Fredrik Modin is still on the IR due to knee problems. Mike Commodore is expected to play against San Jose on Thursday.
Thursday night, 10:30 pm at San Jose.
Will most likely be the premiere of new Jackets defenseman Anton Stralman.
San Jose is 1-2 coming off a 6-4 loss at Los Angeles.
The Sharks sit in a four-way tie atop the Pacific Division with two points.