Morning skate: Blue Jackets news & notes
FEB 01, 2014 12:07p ET
Due to last year's lockout shortened season and realignment, Columbus hasn't played the Florida Panthers in twenty-two months. They will get reacquainted this evening as the Blue Jackets look to add another win to their all-time record of 8-4-0 versus the Panthers.
Columbus head coach Todd Richards acknowledges that they cannot underestimate their opponent, playing their final game of a four game road trip. "Tonight, we need to worry about 'our' game", he said after starting the morning skate with special team's drills. Florida, seventh in the Atlantic Division, wants to halt the losing slide.
"We're going to face a team (Florida), are we catching at the right time? This is the last game of their road trip. But, they're also going to be hungry. They're not happy with the way the last couple of games went. So, we're going to have to ready."
Columbus might very well see the defenseman David Savard back in the line-up tonight, after missing four games (illness). "He felt good after the morning skate", said Richards. "We'll see this afternoon, but we're anticipating him playing tonight."
The recent line combinations, with Johansen and Anisimov swapping, have paid dividends for Columbus, especially in the 5-2 victory over Washington. Will those lines carry over into tonight's tilt? "The line combinations were good because of the results", Richards said. "But, we also just got better performances out of certain guys. I don't know how much of was line combinations or just other guys stepping up and playing better."
With 28 games to go in the regular season, and as tight as the race in the Metro Division is, can this team recreate the magic of last years' 19-5-5 finish? Although the corollary is there, Richards doesn't want to look in the rear-view mirror.
"I don't know", he said. "Eight games in a row, I think there's some of it there. But 19-5-5, there are only a handful of teams that even had stretches like that over the last couple of years. It was a great stretch and a great run. But, we can't rest on last year. We just need to come out and play good, solid hockey. I think since Christmas, we have done that."
"To me, it's always about the process. If you're doing the process right, usually the results are there. Sometimes they're not, but for the most past, they are."
Rookie defenseman Ryan Murray was in Columbus rehabbing from his surgery as Columbus made their late season run last year. He saw the magic of the team coming together over that stretch run. Can they do it again?
"Yeah, I think for sure", said Murray. "If you deserve to win, most of the time you will win. I think that, for the most part, we're out-playing a lot of teams. In that little three game skid, I thought that we could have won a few of those games."
"That's the way the game goes sometimes, you don't win the ones you deserve. But as long as you pay well enough to win and we get a good effort from everybody, there's no reason we can't go on a run for the playoffs."