Colulmbus Blue Jackets

Bruins’ Marchand punches Blue Jackets’ Harrington in back of head

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Think Brad Marchand has changed his ways?

Think again.

Marchand once again let the pest inside him get the better of his better judgment late in the third period of Boston’s 2-1 Game 3 loss against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday.

The Bruins forward, who seemed to have an epiphany of sorts this year as he worked his way to his first 100-point season (and steered clear of the penalty box for the most part) went back to old faithful with 1:01 remaining.

Blue Jackets defenseman Scott Harrington was sitting up on his knees after a stoppage in play in the Columbus zone. Marchand positioned himself behind the unsuspecting Harrington and landed a jab flush to the back of his head, out of the sight of the officials who were dealing with a couple of scrums that had erupted following the whistle.

There was no call on the play.

“I am not giving you my thoughts. I don’t need to give any thoughts on that,” Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella said afterward. “You guys can come up with something there.”

Marchand has been suspended six times in his NHL career, with his latest coming last season when he elbowed now-teammate Marcus Johannson in the head. That one garnered him five games.

It remains to be seen what, if any, action the NHL’s Department of Player Safety takes in this case.

It meets quite a bit of criterion, however. Defenseless player and avoidable head contact come to mind.

UPDATE:


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

It’s time for Bobrovsky to take game to next level

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Sergei Bobrovsky has been one of the dominant regular-season goaltenders of the last decade. He’s the only active netminder to win the Vezina Trophy twice, too. Unfortunately for him and the teams he’s played for, success hasn’t followed him into the playoffs.

Bobrovsky has been to the postseason three times as a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets. His team failed to advance to the second round all three times and his individual numbers have been pretty mediocre. The difference between his numbers in the regular season and in the playoffs are staggering.

In 2016-17, he had a 2.06 goals-against-average and a .931 save percentage during the regular season. He came away with his second Vezina Trophy that year. In the playoffs, he posted a 3.88 goals-against-average and a .882 save percentage over five games.

Last season, he posted a 2.42 goals-against-average and a .921 save percentage in 65 games. In the postseason, the Blue Jackets were able to build up a 2-0 lead in their first-round series against the Washington Capitals, but they were eventually bounced from the postseason when they lost four games in a row. Bobrovsky had a 3.18 goals-against-average and a .900 save percentage in the series. Not good enough. Again.

This season has been an interesting one for the Russian netminder. By his standards, it wasn’t a banner year. There were ups, there were downs, there was a lot of talk about him being an unrestricted free agent at the of the season, but in the end he was able to help get his team into the playoffs.

“I’m not going to talk about any trophies, not at this time of the year,” head coach John Tortorella said, per the Tampa Times. “But I’ll tell you the guy we have, he is one hell of a goalie. I can’t speak on Vasy, I’m not with him every day.

“I know the guy we have, the way he prepares, the way he goes about his business before he steps on the it, it is second to none. I’ve had (Dominik) Hasek, I’ve had Hendrik Lundqvist, I’ve had some really good goalies that I’ve been fortunate enough to be around and watch how they prepare. And there’s no one who prepares better than our guy.”

The Jackets were underdogs against the Penguins and Capitals in previous years, but the challenge that awaits them this year might be the most difficult of all. Columbus has a good team, but they’re not nearly as deep as the Tampa Bay Lightning team they’re going to be facing. The Bolts won 62 games this year and they finished 21 points ahead of any other team in the league. Beating Tampa won’t be easy.

If the Jackets are going to shock the hockey world, they’ll need the 30-year-old to take his game to another level. Not only will he have to be better than Bolts goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, he’ll have to be better than Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point and several others.

In any other circumstance, a number eight seed losing to the top seed wouldn’t be an issue. But this might just be the final time we see Bobrovsky in a Blue Jackets uniform. Does he want to go out with a whimper? Probably not.

Columbus is a well balanced team, but in order to sneak by Tampa they’ll need their franchise player to elevate his game to a level he’s probably never reached before.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Report: Jackets’ Murray has an ankle injury (again)

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Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Ryan Murray is expected to miss his third straight game tonight when the Anaheim Ducks visit Nationwide Arena.

According to Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch, Murray’s lower body injury is believed to be an ankle issue.

It’s been a rough season for the 21-year-old.

Murray missed the first seven games of the season due to off-season knee surgery.

After playing in just four games, Murray missed another 36 games with issues to the same knee.

He then returned to the Jackets lineup for three games before being sidelined for another 17 due to a high ankle sprain.

Murray has appeared in just 10 games this season registering two assists and a minus-1 rating while averaging 18:56 in ice time.

Blue Jackets re-sign Savard — two years, $2.6 million

The Columbus Blue Jackets are doing well to maintain the blue line corps they had last season.

Aaron Portzline of The Columbus Dispatch reports the team has re-signed defenseman David Savard to a two-year, $2.6 million deal.

Savard, 23,  has been a depth blue liner the past three seasons in Columbus, but took control of a steady position during this past campaign. He played in 70 games and had five goals and 15 points and averaged 17:50 of ice time per game. In his previous two seasons to that he played a total of 35 games in the NHL.

Savard was part of a defensive crew that featured Jack Johnson, James Wisniewski, Fedor Tyutin, and Ryan Murray as the top-four. With Nikita Nikitin off to Edmonton, he’ll have Dalton Prout and fellow restricted free agent Tim Erixon to battle it out for the remaining two spots.

Columbus inks Nikitin for two years, $4.3 million

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One of Columbus’ few bright sports from last season will be around for the forseeable future.

According to Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch, the Blue Jackets have agreed to terms with RFA defenseman Nikita Nikitin — a two-year deal worth $4.3 million.

The deal will pay $1.8 million this year, $2.5 the next and will take Nikitin one year beyond UFA status.

Acquired from St. Louis in exchange for Kris Russell last November, Nikitin was a solid contributor on the Columbus blueline last season. He led all defensemen in scoring (7G-25A-32PTS) despite playing just 54 games and averaged over 23 minutes a night.

He also finished minus-5, no small feat when you log tons of minutes on a lousy team. Just ask Fedor Tuytin (minus-21), Derick Brassard (minus-20) and Rick Nash (minus-19).

The deal represents a healthy raise for the 26-year-old Russian, who played last season on a one-year, $600,00 deal.