Los Angeles Kings v Columbus Blue Jackets

There’s hope in Columbus as Jackets prepare for 1,000th game


Tonight in Columbus, the red-hot Blue Jackets will play regular-season game No. 1,000 when they host the Philadelphia Flyers.

As you can see below (via hockeyDB.com), it hasn’t been easy for Jackets fans since the club entered the NHL at the turn of the millennium.


And that one playoff appearance? Yeah, they were swept by the Red Wings.

But things are looking decidedly up for the Jackets. A seven-game winning streak, a franchise record, has catapulted them into the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, led by their Vezina Trophy-winning goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, as well as blue-chip youngsters Ryan Johansen, Ryan Murray and Boone Jenner, and veterans (but not old) Nathan Horton, RJ Umberger, Brandon Dubinsky, Nick Foligno, Jack Johnson, Fedor Tyutin, and James Wisniewski.

A stocked cupboard of prospects is another reason to be excited about the future.

“We’re on a roll, but we’re not where we want to be,” Horton said after the Jackets’ latest victory, an impressive 5-3 defeat of the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday. “We want to get back in the playoffs and stay there. We needed a winning streak; now we need to keep the thing going.”

That “roll” has been no fluke either. After struggling for much of the season to win the possession battle, the following chart (via Extra Skater) shows the difference in their recent play:


Granted, besides Los Angeles, the Jackets haven’t exactly been rolling over the NHL’s elite. And it should be noted the Kings were playing their second game in two nights, and fourth of a tough road trip. A big test for Columbus will come before the Olympic break with a visit to California to play the Kings, Ducks and Sharks.

For now, though, let the good times roll.

“You don’t want to get caught up in it, but it shows the direction the club’s going,” said Umberger. “There have been some bad moments here. But we’ve got a lot more in us. We’re not satisfied.”

WATCH LIVE: Wild at Blackhawks; Penguins at Sharks

Scott Darling, Charlie Coyle
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Will Ryan Suter say something foolish during tonight’s game? Is Brent Burns‘ beard so long that it’s finally starting to scrape the ice?

We’ll find out the answer to those questions and more during Tuesday’s NBCSN doubleheader.

Need to follow the two games online? Never fear.

Game 1: Minnesota Wild at Chicago Blackhawks


Game 2: Pittsburgh Penguins at San Jose Sharks


Bolland back in, Bjugstad out with injury for Panthers

Evgeny Medvedev, Nick Bjugstad
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Message sent or not via healthy scratches or not, Dave Bolland returns to the Florida Panthers mix on Tuesday.

Unfortunately for the Panthers, it’s maybe not under the most ideal circumstances, as part of the explanation for his return is Nick Bjugstad‘s absence.

The Miami Herald’s George Richards reports that Bjugstad is out tonight against the St. Louis Blues with an upper-body injury that he suffered during a Monday practice.

In fact, as you can see in the tweet above, the young forward was sent home because of the injury.

This forces some shuffling, with Vincent Trocheck moving up to the second line while Bolland centers the third combo as usual.

The Panthers are currently on a two-game winning streak and visit St. Louis as the second date in a five-game road trip.

This is also the early part of a span in which they play nine of 10 games on the road (counting Sunday’s away win), so a prolonged absence from Bjugstad could sting that much more.


Royal pain: Kings’ Greene to have shoulder surgery, out indefinitely

Jiri Hudler, Matt Greene
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The Los Angeles Kings lost one of their most veteran defensemen on Tuesday, as the club announced Matt Greene would be out indefinitely following shoulder surgery.

Greene, 32, had only appeared in three games this season, missing extensive time with the ailment. He had recently resumed skating with teammates and looked to be on the way back to a return, but never got to the point where he was participating in drills, or taking contact.

With Greene out of the lineup, the Kings have primarily gone with a six-man defensive unit of Drew Doughty, Jake Muzzin, Alec Martinez, Christian Ehrhoff, Jamie McBain and Brayden McNabb. Derek Forbort and Jeff Schultz have also been in the mix, but sparingly.

If Greene misses extensive time, L.A. could be in the market for a defenseman come trade deadline day, like they were last year before acquiring Andrej Sekera from Carolina. Greene is one of the most playoff-tested players on the L.A. roster, with 79 games and two Stanley Cups on his resume (and another Stanley Cup Final, with Edmonton in 2006).

Looks like the Canucks will have an interesting lineup tonight

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The Vancouver Canucks got banged up last night in Anaheim. As a result, it looks like they’ll have an interesting lineup tonight in Los Angeles.

Coach Willie Desjardins confirmed this morning that wingers Chris Higgins and Jake Virtanen were hurt and wouldn’t dress against the Kings.

In game-day line rushes, AHL callup Andrey Pedan, a defenseman, was skating on the wing with Jared McCann and Radim Vrbata.

But hold on, that doesn’t necessarily mean Pedan will make his NHL debut tonight. This morning, the Canucks announced they’d called up d-man Alex Biega from AHL Utica. Theoretically, inserting Biega could allow the offensively inclined Yannick Weber to move up to forward. Biega and Weber both shoot right. Pedan shoots left.

But wait, there exists another possibility — that both Pedan and Biega could play. That will depend on Chris Tanev‘s status. He got banged up yesterday as well, though he was able to skate this morning.

Confused? It’s OK. So is everyone.

As an aside, the Canucks not only got banged up last night, they also got pushed around and embarrassed in a 4-0 loss to the Ducks.

On that note, here’s what Pedan did to Jarred Tinordi in a Utica-Hamilton game last season: